Nippon Professional Baseball’s Ball Maker, Mizuno, Apologizes for Ball Defect


Japan’s professional baseball league was facing another ball scandal Tuesday as sports equipment giant Mizuno apologized for a defect that turned the nation’s top sport into a slugfest.

The firm blamed a manufacturing defect, after league officials said they detected a problem with game balls following the season opener last month.

“This happened because of Mizuno’s failure to control our operations,” company president Akito Mizuno told a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Last year, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioner Ryozo Kato was forced to quit after it was discovered that the league and Mizuno conspired to tweak the balls to make the game more exciting.

After months of repeated denials and a huge surge in home runs, the league admitted that it had changed specifications of the balls to give them greater bounce off the bat.

The league also admitted that it had demanded its manufacturer keep quiet about the switch.

Japanese Figure Skating Star Yuzuru Hanyu Wins Gold

The 19-year-old Japanese star Yuzuru Hanyu has become the youngest skater for 66 years to take gold in the men’s figure skating, despite falling twice in his final performance.

After becoming the first skater to surpass the 100-point mark in the short programme on Thursday, Hanyu went into the free skate on Friday in the top spot.

Hanyu made the rotation for the quad in the opening seconds, but slipped on the landing and lost his footing badly. After another fall on a triple flip, Hanyu finished crouched on the ice, his head bowed, certain he had lost the gold.

The judges awarded him 178.64 points – a good score, but one that left him vulnerable to three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada. But Chan, up next, fared worse, and made three errors. Hanyu’s combined score of 280.09 was enough give him the gold.

World silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan took the bronze. Hanyu is the Asian to take Olympic gold in the men’s figure staking.

Paul McCartney in Japan and Getting in Some Sumo – Watches Hakuho Win

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho put on a show for Beatles legend Paul McCartney on Thursday, preserving his share of the lead with a clinical win on the fifth day of action at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.

With McCartney, playing nearby Yafuoku Dome as part of his Japan tour on Friday, watching from the “masu-seki” boxed seats at Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Hakuho kept Toyoshima 2-3 at arm’s length after the charge and then picked his moment to haul the No. 2 maegashira down by the back of his neck.

McCartney, watching his first live basho in 20 years, having also attended the 1993 Fukuoka meet, nearly stole the show after the last bout as he posed for photographs and shook hands with spectators as chants of “Paul, Paul” rang around the arena.

Hakuho shares the lead with fellow yokozuna Harumafuji and rank-and-filers Masunoyama and Shotenro at 5-0.

Read the rest of the story: Beatles legend watches Hakuhos latest triumph.

2020 Olympic Games to be hosted by Tokyo

Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics after being picked ahead of Istanbul and Madrid following a vote in Buenos Aires.

The Japanese city has been selected to stage the most prestigious event in sport by a secret ballot among International Olympic Committee IOC members, with the result revealed in the capital of Argentina on Saturday.

Tokyo previously held the Olympic Games in 1964, while Istanbul and Madrid were striving to host the event for the first time.

Read the rest of the story: Tokyo to host 2020 Olympic Games.

Fighter Antonio Inoki – Who Fought a Draw against Muhammad Ali – Wins Election in Japan

A former Japanese wrestler who took on boxer Muhammad Ali in a cross-discipline bout in the 1970s is among the winners in his nation’s election to the upper house of parliament yesterday.

Antonio Inoki, 70, was elected as a member of the Japan Restoration Party, resuming a presence in Japan’s legislature decades after he fought Ali to a draw in 1976. The ballot, which suffered a slump in turnout as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition swept to a majority, also saw a television actor win a seat on a platform opposing the restart of nuclear reactors after the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns.

“I would like to thank everyone who gave me energy as I rushed around sweating for this,” Inoki, who has made several trips to North Korea, told Fuji Television last night. “I would like to focus on diplomatic issues.”

Read the rest of the story: Muhammad Ali Combatant Inoki Among Japan Election Winners.

Japan’s players union calls for commissioner Kato to step down after ball scandal

Japan’s players union has called for the resignation of Nippon Professional Baseball’s commissioner following revelations that a new official ball was introduced this season without notifying players.

Toru Matsubara, the secretary general of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, submitted a document to NPB saying commissioner Ryozo Kato should resign and be replaced by someone who can demonstrate leadership.

With almost half the season played, NPB acknowledged this month for the first time that a new ball was being used. The new, livelier ball has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of home runs.

The 71-year-old Kato, a former Japanese ambassador to the United States, said he didn’t know the ball had been changed.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s players union calls for commissioner Kato to step down in wake of ball scandal.

Italy Defeats Japan to Reach Confederation Cup Semifinals

Italy rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat Japan 4-3 Wednesday, earning a spot in the Confederations Cup semifinals.

First-half substitute Sebastian Giovinco scored the winner in the 86th minute of an entertaining match at the Arena Pernambuco, pounding home a cross from Claudio Marchisio.
After a dismal start for the Azzurri that saw Japan score twice in the opening 33 minutes, Daniele De Rossi pulled one back with a header in the 41st. Japan defender Atsuto Uchida scored an own-goal in the 50th and Mario Balotelli converted a penalty kick in the 52nd.

Japan had taken the lead with a penalty kick by Keisuke Honda in the 21st. Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa doubled the lead for Japan in the 33rd after a defensive error.

Shinji Okazaki made it 3-3 in the 69th with a header.

The Azzurri moved even with Brazil at six points atop Group A. Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 earlier Sunday and also advanced courtesy of Italy’s win.

In the final round of group matches, Italy will face host Brazil in Salvador on Saturday, and Japan meets Mexico in Belo Horizonte.

Tokyo promises safe Olympics in 2020 bid pitch

Tokyo promised a safe and superb 2020 Olympics as it made its bid presentation to over 800 National Olympic Committee representatives during the Association of National Olympic Committees General Assembly in Lausanne, Switzerland on Saturday.

Tokyo confirmed a wide range of guarantees, including “hosting an incredible city-center celebration with the Games in the very heart of the one of the world’s most safe and secure cities.”

Tokyo is vying with Madrid and Istanbul for 2020, with the International Olympic Committee to select the host city on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires.

All three bid teams in May made presentations to the SportAccord conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, with each claiming to be the safest and most financially secure.

Keisuke Honda Drives Japan to World Cup Qualification

Japan became the first side to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil when playmaker Keisuke Honda scored an injury-time penalty to claim a 1-1 draw with Australia in a dramatic finale in Saitama on Tuesday.

The Blue Samurai dominated for most of the match but failed to convert that pressure into goals and Australia winger Tommy Oar looked to have made them pay when his 81st minute cross from the left looped over Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who flapped and failed to clear.

But the Japanese were not to be denied and they poured forward with the equalizer inevitably coming via Honda, who only arrived in Japan on Monday after helping CSKA Moscow to the Russian Cup on Saturday.

His cross was handled in the area by full back Matt McKay in stoppage time and the bleach blond attacker stepped up to leather the spot kick straight down the middle past Mark Schwarzer to send the crowd into raptures.

Japan: Sarah Outen Restarting Rowing World Challenge

Adventurer Sarah Outen will fly out to Japan today (Wednesday) to restart her challenge to circumnavigate the globe by her own power.

Before leaving, former Stamford High School pupil Sarah, 27, from Oakham, said she was feeling a mixture of nerves, excitement and sadness as she leaves her family and friends in Rutland to re-embark on her London2London: Via the World expedition.

Sarah said: “I am feeling some nerves but I think it is good to have a bit of fear and apprehension of the ocean and to respect the grand scale of it.”

The double world record holder learnt to respect the ocean when she had to cut short her attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean in June when her rowing boat Gulliver broke up in a tropical storm.

The Japanese coastguard rescued Sarah from the sea exhausted and dehydrated, having battled 45ft waves and 100mph winds for three days.

Before that Sarah had cycled and kayaked more than 11,000 miles from London to Japan, starting the journey in April last year.

Read the rest of the story: Adventurer Sarah Outen will fly to Japan today to restart world challenge.