For 2 ballclubs, road to Koshien will go through Tokyo Dome
（November 26, The Asahi Shimbun）
Long the stuff of dreams among youths in Japan, Tokyo Dome will host official high school baseball games for the first time next summer.
The semifinals and finals of the east and west Tokyo tournaments will be held at the home of the popular Yomiuri Giants professional baseball team from July 31 through Aug. 2, the Tokyo High School Baseball Federation and The Asahi Shimbun Co. said.
The winners of the east and west tournaments will qualify for the 103rd National High School Baseball Championship held next summer at another hallowed baseball field, Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.
The annual summer national championship is co-organized by the Japan High School Baseball Federation (JHBF), the parent body of the Tokyo federation, and the newspaper publisher.
Two semifinal games each will be played on July 31 and Aug. 1 at the stadium in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward. The finals of the east and west tournaments will both be held on Aug. 2.
Other details of the Tokyo tournaments, including the sequential order of games and stadiums to be used, will be decided next fiscal year, which starts in April.
Jingu Baseball Stadium, home of the Giants’ crosstown Central League rivals, the Yakult Swallows, is the main venue for the Tokyo high school tournaments for the summer national championships. However, the stadium will be used for the Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer.
The COVID-19 crisis pushed the 2020 Olympic Games back a year. The pandemic also wreaked havoc on high school baseball in Japan.
Although the Tokyo semifinals and finals this year were scheduled to have been played at Tokyo Dome, the national championship was called off to prevent the spread of the virus.
Independent events were held instead in all 47 prefectures by the prefectural chapters of the JHBF.
Katsuji Takei, managing director of the Tokyo federation, expressed delight at the plans for next year.
“It has been decided we will be able to use Tokyo Dome as one of the venues of the east and west Tokyo tournaments for summer 2021,” he said in a statement. “We were obliged this year to have our tournaments held in a way that nobody had expected, but officials have worked so hard to allow us to still have some of our games played at Tokyo Dome. I offer my heartfelt thanks to them.”
He added that he hopes the ballplayers will refresh their minds and never give up on their dreams of winning a ticket to the “summer Koshien,” as the national tournament is called.