The Tokyo Games kicked off with a Japanese victory in softball.


TOKYO – The first competition of the Games started with a ball and ended with a home run.

Australian softball’s lead batsman Michelle Cox took a low step from Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno in an empty stadium in Fukushima on Wednesday in the first competitive move of the Tokyo Olympics.

The pitch – after some pre-game demonstration that included introductions by several officials and dignitaries – has officially launched an edition of the games that has been running for years and has been delayed by a year by the coronavirus pandemic.

It was also the last offensive event for Australia. Japan responded with a run of its own three times at the end of the first, two of the third and under the fourth. And when Yu Yamamoto hit a two-pointer in the fifth half, Japan was leading 8-1 and the rule of mercy invoked, finish the game.

Played two days before the opening ceremony, the game was the first of three games in softball and half a dozen games in football that saw the first athletes take to the field at the Games. Japan and Australia took the honor of being first; Their matches at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium would be followed by matches between the United States and Italy and Mexico and Canada.

Later Wednesday, six games will open the women’s soccer tournament, including the United States’ match against Sweden at Tokyo Stadium.

It is not uncommon for Olympic competitions to start before the opening ceremony as a result of a tight schedule and extended tournaments that may require longer than the official 17-day window of the Games.

Cox, the first batsman, made the most of his moment in the Olympic spotlight: He scored a full point against Ueno and then had an in-field singles beat that went back to the pitcher.

Japan’s first starter, Ueno, took a tough hit. After giving Cox a single, he walked a batter and hit the next two with pitches. This allowed Cox to win the game – and the Games’ first run.

The host’s early nerves soon faded, however, and they steadily retreated until Yamamoto sealed their victory with one hit.


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