2016 World Baseball Softball Confederation to be held at Fukushima

Fukushima is going to be the host for the 2016 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Under-15 Baseball World Cup.

The sports’ governing body stated that the tournament will take place between July 29 and August 7. The governing body will join forces with the Baseball Federation of Japan and city officials to help plan the tournament.

But the tournament isn’t all fun and games. One of the goals of the baseball tournament is to bring awareness and aid to the contaminated region. In 2011, a tsunami swallowed three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi site. Thousands of people were evacuated and are just now beginning to return home; however, radiation continues to cloud the area.

A recent report published in the journal Epidemiology found that thyroid cancer rates were 20 to 50 times higher among children within the Fukushima Prefecture than children outside the prefecture. This revelation comes years after the mainstream media denied a connection between nuclear fall out at the Fukushima site and cancer rates.

Take me out to the power plant

One cannot help wonder why Fukushima would be chosen as the site for the tournament considering the contamination that remains there. The WBSC World Cup competition is set to include 12 nations and the players will be between the ages of 13 to 15.

To add further irony, Fukushima is located approximately 240 kilometers from Tokyo, which is set to be the site of the 2020 Olympics. Baseball and softball are vying to be included in the 2020 Summer Olympics. Snooker has already lost a place at the 2020 Summer Olympics, but many believe that baseball and softball are considered favorites for getting a place in the competition.

Many are reasonably concerned about holding the Olympics in Tokyo because of the Fukushima catastrophe. In particular, the Japanese government has continuously tried to underplay the severity of the disaster. Many fear that fish off the coast of Japan are no longer edible and that radiation from the power plant has contaminated a large portion of Japan’s water supply. Despite these concerns, government officials continued to push Tokyo as the host for the 2020 Olympics.

Athletes unperturbed by Fukushima radiation

Nevertheless, officials don’t seem worried about holding a baseball tournament at the Fukushima site next year:

“It is an honour and a privilege for the WBSC to have the 2016 Under-15 Baseball World Cup staged in Fukushima, Japan,” said Riccardo Fraccari, WBSC President.

“WBSC and all of our partners are fully committed to playing whatever role we can to bring the benefits and universal values of sport to help shape a better society and symbolise a brighter future.

“If our sport is able in any way to help recognise the ongoing recovery and lift community morale, it will be a great duty and honour, as well as an important cultural experience for our young athletes.”

Cuba, for one, will be defending their title as reigning champions at next year’s tournament. The tiny island nation beat the United States in the gold medal match at the 2014 tournament. The competition is held every two years.

Dates for two other tournaments have yet to be announced. Other tournaments are already in the planning. The second men’s Under-21 Baseball World Cup will be held at a recently built 20,000-seat stadium of the Mexican Pacific League club the Culiacan Tomateros between June 17 and 27.

Chinese Taipei claimed the inaugural title after defeating Japan in final. They hope to do the same in Sinaloa, Mexico.

Their is no reason to believe the Fukushima region is safe place for a softball tournament. Many mothers are abandoning the region out of fear for the children’s health. Optimistic estimates suggest it will take 40 years to clean up the region. Hosting the WBSC at Fukushima sounds like a bad pitch.

Sources include:

(1) InsideTheGames.Biz

(2) Bigstory.AP.org