11/21/2018 1:30:36 PM

Revival hopes as Olympics chief set to visit Fukushima

Revival hopes as Olympics chief set to visit Fukushima

Tokyo, Japan: Olympics chief Thomas Bach will visit Japan's Fukushima this weekend, a region devastated by the 2011 tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster that officials hope to revive by bringing some events to the region.

International Olympic Committee President Bach will on Saturday visit a stadium set to host 2020 Olympics baseball and softball games, and meet 60 students who play the sports, organisers said in a statement.

Bach will also speak with local high school students and meet Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed hopes of showing the world the recovery of Fukushima and other disaster-hit areas during the sporting event, for which Tokyo is the designated host city.

Fukushima was also chosen as the starting point for the Olympics torch relay.

The passing of the flame is scheduled to start on March 26, 2020, and the torch will head south to the subtropical island of Okinawa -- the starting point for the 1964 Tokyo Games relay -- before returning north and arriving in the Japanese capital on July 10.

The March 2011 tsunami, triggered by a massive undersea quake, killed around 18,000 people and swamped the Fukushima nuclear plant, sending its reactors into meltdown and leading to the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes. Authorities have been working to rebuild the region, about 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Tokyo, although areas near the crippled plant remain uninhabitable because of radiation dangers.

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