First wheelchair softball field inaugurated in Japan

First wheelchair softball field inaugurated in Japan
Japan's new sports complex was inaugurated with a wheelchair softball tournament and a game with the participation of former Olympic softball stars.

Baseball and softball are set to become more accessible and "user-friendly" than ever.

Japan’s first wheelchair softball facility was inaugurated last Saturday, 5 December, in Higashi-Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture. Festivities included a ceremonial wheelchair softball game that included Olympic softball players and elementary school students. In addition, a wheelchair softball tournament was held that brought together six teams from all over the country.

Among the Olympic legends present at the inauguration were UTSUGI Taeko, Japan’s head coach of the Olympic medal-winning teams in Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, and WBSC Executive Board Member; and INUI Emi, a two-time medallist in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, and the first female to be hired as scout of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), with the Orix Buffaloes team.

The 4,540 square-meter facility, which will be open to the public next February can also accommodate wheelchair rugby, tennis and basketball.

The new facility in Japan follows another breakthrough development that saw New Taipei City construct Taiwan's first baseball/softball fields for people with disabilities.

Earlier this year in South America, a new league dedicated to baseball for the blind was announced in Argentina.

Inclusive disciplines like wheelchair softball and baseball for the blind are instrumental in WBSC’s strategy of growing the sport around the world and providing access to all people and communities.

Read More: Global baseball-softball development doesn’t stop amid global pandemic