Olympics to Get Underway With Softball as First Event, 150 Miles From Tokyo

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Skippy the yellowish kangaroo with greenish paws was affixed to the archetypal basal dugout railing, watching the Australia Spirit go the archetypal squad to enactment retired astatine Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, 7 weeks aft they became archetypal overseas athletes to get astatine the Olympics.

Coach Laing Harrow deed grounders and flies to his women starting astatine 9 a.m. Tuesday, precisely 24 hours earlier the eighth-ranked Aussies measurement to the sheet erstwhile big Japan, the No. 2-ranked softball team, throws the precise archetypal transportation of the precise archetypal lawsuit of the pandemic-delayed Olympics.

The Games of the 32nd Olympiad were to person started past July 22 but were pushed backmost by the coronavirus pandemic. Despite galore successful Japan questioning whether it is omniscient with the microorganism inactive raging successful the country, the International Olympic Committee is pushing ahead.

This ballpark, located astir 150 miles northbound of Tokyo and akin to a large league outpouring grooming camp, has lone respective handfuls of the 11,000 athletes who are converging connected the Tokyo Games. The stadium, 42 miles northwest of the determination of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi atomic disaster, volition big the archetypal 2 days of the softball tourney and the opening time of the shot lawsuit connected July 28, with the remainder astatine the location of the Central League's Yokohama DeNA BayStars, a large ballpark 17 miles from the capital.

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In their agleam yellowish jerseys, the Aussies were excited to beryllium astir to get underway.

“It was disappointing for the girls, obviously, being postponed for a year,” Harrow said. “Some of them would person had plans from aft August 2020. And, sure, it wasn’t successful their plans to proceed to beryllium successful the gym each time and grooming each day. But overall, the girls person truly handled that well. And I deliberation 1 happening we’re precise bully astatine is being adaptable.”

The top-ranked United States, seeking to regain the golden medal it mislaid erstwhile it was upset by Japan 3-1 successful the 2008 last successful Beijing, opens against No. 9 Italy successful the 2nd crippled of a tripleheader that ends with No. 5 Mexico against third-ranked Canada.

Host Japan took batting signifier adjacent connected a broiling time with 95-degree vigor and precocious humidity, followed by Italy, the United States, Mexico and Canada.

A 15-woman U.S. roster includes a brace of veterans: 38-year-old left-hander Cat Osterman, the past holdover from the 2004 golden medal-winning team, and 35-year-old left-hander Monica Abbott, who joined Osteman connected the 2008 team.

Outfielder Janie Reed is the woman of Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jake Reed, who made his large league debut July 6, had six appearances and was optioned Monday to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

“The facet of having 16 months, 17 months present since the determination to hold the Olympics has astir apt caused immoderate biology things to happen," U.S. manager Ken Eriksen said. “Number one, the earthy bid of aging different twelvemonth for immoderate of the players arsenic acold arsenic either enhanced, oregon possibly it has brought successful immoderate consternation, particularly emotionally.”

The American squad trained successful the U.S. done June 20 and started successful Japan connected July 5 successful Iwakuni, 525 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Canada's squad dispersed past March, didn't stitchery again until January and landed successful Japan connected July 6.

“We relied connected what galore radical did, conscionable Zoom calls and conscionable virtual connection and trying to enactment connected, but fortunately this clip gave mode to a batch much idiosyncratic mentation and a batch of learning and a batch of radical pursuing cognition and conscionable continuing to cleanable their craft," said Canada outfielder Victoria Hayward, who trains astatine Proswings successful Longwood, Florida, to instrumentality vantage of amended weather. "So we consciousness precise fortunate that we had a small spot of other clip to sharpen our axes and to enactment unneurotic and past successful 2021 we've been capable to beryllium unneurotic for a bulk of the twelvemonth unbroken.”

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