The Japanese women’s softball team posted an 8-1 rout of Australia Wednesday to usher in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Games, delayed for a year by the pandemic, got off to a quiet start when Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno tossed the first pitch to Australian leadoff hitter Michelle Cox at a near-empty stadium in the northwest city of Fukushima, the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Australia took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Ueno walked a batter and hit the next two, allowing Cox to score. But the host country quickly rebounded, tying the game in the same inning, then scoring two runs in the third and three more in the fourth. The game ended after Yu Yamamoto hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning that prompted the umpires to invoke the mercy rule.
The Japan-Australia contest was the first of three games scheduled for Wednesday. The United States beat Italy 2-0 in the second game, with 38-year-old Cat Osterman, who won gold with the U.S. team in 2004 and silver in 2008, striking out nine batters while giving up just one hit over six innings.
Mexico and Canada were slated for the third game at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.
The first women’s soccer matches are scheduled to be held Wednesday in Tokyo.
The Tokyo Olympics are being staged under a coronavirus state of emergency prompted by rising rates of new COVID-19 infections and low rates of vaccinations. So far, at least 70 people connected to the Games have tested positive for COVID-19 since athletes began arriving at the Olympic Village in Tokyo.
Olympic organizers have banned fans from attending any of the events because of the current surge of new infections.
Mexico’s national baseball team has been placed in quarantine in Mexico City after two players tested positive for COVID-19 before they were scheduled to travel to Japan.
Meanwhile, an administrative error has caused six members of the Polish swim team to leave Tokyo and return home. A delegation of 23 swimmers arrived in Tokyo to take part in the Games, but the Polish Swimming Federation (PZP) recalled six of them home Sunday because of an administrative error.
All six swimmers issued a statement calling on the entire organization’s board to resign immediately.
PZP director Pawel Slominski issued a statement Monday expressing his “great regret, sadness and bitterness about the situation.”
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.