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21 Jul, 2021 14:36

Bear with us: Olympic security ‘on alert’ as brown bear spotted ‘on the loose’ near softball stadium just hours before first game

Bear with us: Olympic security ‘on alert’ as brown bear spotted ‘on the loose’ near softball stadium just hours before first game

If the dangers of Covid-19 weren't enough to have Olympians keep their guard up ahead of this summer's event in Tokyo, mother nature may have something else in store after a brown bear was spotted at the Olympic softball venue.

According to Fukushima police, a security guard at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium has sighted a potentially deadly brown bear TWICE at the arena in the past two days - the latest sighting coming just hours before the scheduled start of softball match between hosts Japan and Australia. 

The creature, which is estimated to be around three feet tall, has not yet been captured by authorities despite ramped-up efforts to contain the threat before the first pitch in Wednesday's Olympic opener.

"A guard found a bear inside Azuma Sports Park early in the morning yesterday. We also received similar information this morning," said a statement from Fukushima police to local Japanese media.

"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 statement concluded.

Further reports from Japan indicate that there have been several similar sightings throughout previous weeks, with speculation that this bear - or even a family of bears - could be responsible. 

Teams who are scheduled to compete at the stadium in question are said to have been notified of the bear sightings, and authorities have pledged to be vigilant for further sightings in advance of and during games.

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The bear is speculated to be an Ussuri brown bear, a species which is prevalent in Japan and can grow to over two meters tall, can weigh in advance of 650lbs and have been witnessed travelling at a speed of up to 30 miles-per-hour.

Just last month, a wild brown bear injured four people during a series of rampages in Sapporo, attacking people on the street and at a military barrack before it wandered on to an airport runway. 

And if initial reports speculate that the bear which has been cited in the past few weeks close to the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium is a juvenile, authorities will likely be concerned that big brother might just be lurking around the corner.