President Bach and Prime Minister Abe shake hands
President Bach and Prime Minister Abe receive flowers from local children during the welcome ceremony
IOC President Thomas Bach and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe together paid a visit to the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium on Saturday 24 November 2018 to see the Olympic baseball and softball venue.
President Bach first arrived at the Azuma Gymnasium, one of the facilities in the Azuma Sports Park, where a high school badminton competition was taking place. After watching the competition with the students, President Bach met with a number of high school baseball players and representatives from Fukushima Prefecture's baseball and softball organisations.
President Bach then moved to the Azuma Baseball Stadium, also located inside the Azuma Sports Park, where he was joined by Prime Minister Abe. They were all smiles as they attended a welcome ceremony and received a bouquet of flowers by local children who play baseball and softball. Afterwards, Governor Masao Uchibori of Fukushima Prefecture greeted them on the baseball field, and President Bach and Prime Minister Abe nodded to the governor's explanation.
Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, the venue for baseball and softball
After the visit to Fukushima, President Bach and Prime Minister Abe commented as follows.
IOC President Thomas Bach
“It is symbolic that this meeting is taking place in Fukushima. I am very much impressed with the great progress in reconstruction and the mental recovery the people here in Fukushima have made. Sport has played an important role in the psychological recovery of the people.
A long time ago, we discussed whether or not baseball and softball could be played in Fukushima during the Olympic Games, and as I look back I am convinced that we made the right decision. We have seen here the pinnacle of how sport has contributed to the recovery and reconstruction of the region. I would also like to thank the Prime Minister for his efforts toward commitment, partnership and support. The Prime Minister has personally shown his commitment toward the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Thanks to his efforts and commitment, we are able to gain the cooperation from the ministers of the Abe Cabinet. I believe that this partnership will continue throughout our journey to 2020.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
“Japan is determined to showcase the progress in the recovery of the region. We thank President Bach for deciding to have softball and baseball in Fukushima during the Olympic Games. I am very glad that President Bach came to visit the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium today. We have less than two years to go and we are determined to host a wonderful Olympic Games.”