Olympics: Bear on the loose at softball venue

At every Olympics prior to this one, you could always count on some strangeness from the fans. This time around, there are no fans, so the animal kingdom is stepping up. 

Taking advantage of a loophole in Japan's decision to bar fans from the Games — nobody said anything about animals — a bear has been spotted wandering the grounds near the baseball/softball venue in Fukushima. 

"A guard found a bear inside Azuma Sports Park early in the morning [Tuesday]," a Fukushima police spokesman told the Japan Times. "We also received similar information [Wednesday] morning," which was just hours before the first pitch of the Olympics.

"We couldn’t find or capture the bear," the spokesman said, "and while there won’t be any spectators at the stadium, we are on alert and searching for the bear around the site."

According to the Japan Times, the Asian black bear managed to elude the entire contingent of guards at the facility. Guards played loud music and set off fireworks to scare off the bear. 

Bear sightings are common throughout Japan, and are increasing in frequency as buffers between civilization and the bears' habitats dwindle. Recently, a bear rampaged through the city of Sapporo, site of the Olympic marathon and race-walking events, injuring four people before it was put down. 

Softball games marked the start of the Olympics, with Japan defeating Australia 8-1, and the United States later beating Italy 2-0. No word on the bear's rooting interests. 

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at [email protected]

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