Japan Olympics minister backs Fukushima as host venue for 2020

Toshiaki Endo, center, minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, speaks with media in a December 2015 file photo. AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool

TOKYO – Japan’s Olympics minister says he hopes Fukushima prefecture can host preliminary rounds of baseball and softball at the 2020 Games.

Toshiaki Endo made the comments Friday on the fifth anniversary of a magnitude 9.0-earthquake that struck offshore and triggered a devastating tsunami, killing more than 18,000 people.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant spewed radiation after being hit by the tsunami. About 180,000 people in the northeastern region of Japan remain displaced because of the disaster.

Local organizers have recommended to the International Olympic Committee that baseball and softball be added to the program for the 2020 Games, allowing areas outside Tokyo to host events.

Other prefectures in the region will host games at the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and first-round soccer matches at the 2020 Olympics.

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