Empty Stands in Fukushima Cloud "Reconstruction Olympics"

Society Tokyo 2020

Fukushima, July 21 (Jiji Press)--Locals expressed mixed feelings as Tokyo Olympics competition started on Wednesday with a softball game in disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture, in front of empty stands amid the coronavirus pandemic.

There was disappointment that the absence of spectators cast a cloud over the concept of "Reconstruction Olympics" touted by Japan to showcase the progress of recovery from the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 and the subsequent nuclear disaster.

Fukushima is one of the three hardest-hit prefectures in the Tohoku northeastern region, along with Iwate and Miyagi.

The softball opener, in which Japan overwhelmed Australia, took place at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium ahead of Friday's opening ceremony, which officially marks the start of the Games.

Player yells and stadium announcements echoed around the quiet venue, following the abrupt decision to ban spectators as infections are resurging in the country.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press Tokyo 2020