The 2020 Tokyo Olympics (in 2021) have not gotten off to the smoothest of starts, as the latest variants of COVID-19 has caused a spike in cases worldwide that has led the Olympics to be a spectator-less affair that much of the country of Japan is against hosting.
A handful of athletes have tested positive while in Tokyo, while numerous others have had to delay travel or be pulled from Olympic teams at the last minute for positive tests or close contacts in the weeks leading up to the Games. In case the pandemic wasn’t enough of a hazard, the Olympics now also have to contend with a more physically tangible threat: bears.
Yes, the softball venue at Azuma Sports Park has apparently had a bear sighting recently, part of an uptick that Japan has seen post-pandemic many attribute to lockdowns leading to bears venturing further into areas where people had vacated, via the Washington Post.
A security guard at the Azuma Sports Park first spotted the brown bear at the venue early Tuesday, and it came back again on Wednesday just hours before the first scheduled softball game between Japan and Australia took place, a Fukushima police spokesman told Agence France-Presse.
“We couldn’t find or capture the bear, and while there won’t be any spectators at the stadium, we are on alert and searching for the bear around the site,” the official said.
Olympic organizers could not immediately be reached for comment.
I’ll be honest, one of the least encouraging phrases one could possibly hear in this situation is “we couldn’t find or capture the bear,” but the lack of spectators does help mitigate the disaster potential here. Still, for the softball teams playing in the stadium, it is surely a bit alarming and you can bet they’ll have their heads on a swivel when arriving at the ballpark. Hopefully the bear stays in the woods for the remainder of the tournament and everyone (including the bear) remains safe and unharmed.