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Japan's summer 'Koshien' high school baseball championship begins after 1-yr hiatus

Nio Kinoshita of Komatsu Ohtani High School swears an oath during the opening ceremony of the National High School Baseball Championship at Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, on Aug. 10, 2021. (Mainichi/Natsuki Nishi)

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo -- Japan's National High School Baseball Championship at Hanshin Koshien Stadium in this west Japan city has returned on Aug. 10 after a coronavirus-caused year's hiatus, in a spectatorless tournament where stands are filled only by school affiliates.

    Nio Kinoshita, captain of the Komatsu Ohtani High School team representing central Japan's Ishikawa Prefecture made the opening ceremony's fair play pledge. In his oath he spoke emphatically: "This is the first summer Koshien championship in two years. To remind people of the value of chasing dreams, we swear to show, through the play we will devote our best both mentally and physically to, the true spirit of high school baseball players at this dream stadium of Koshien."

    In reference to the coronavirus pandemic, he said: "Many cannot lead even ordinary lives because of the difficulties worldwide. Our school lives and club activities have become totally different to two years ago. ... Last year, our senior students broke down crying because their Koshien dream was dashed. ... But we did not give up."

    Players wearing masks attend the National High School Baseball Championship's opening ceremony at Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, on Aug. 10, 2021. (Mainichi/Kenji Ikai)

    He expressed gratitude to those who have supported players, saying, "We have progressed step by step while being encouraged by our friends' smiles, enveloped in our families' deep affection, and inspired by athletes across the world."

    After the oath, Kinoshita said with a smile: "I'm proud I could make a pledge as representative of players across the country on a stage I have long dreamed of. ... We're inheriting last year's senior students' wishes. We want to work to make their Koshien dreams come true."

    (Japanese original by Hitoshi Sonobe, Osaka Bureau)

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