A guard first spotted the bear Tuesday night, and then again Wednesday morning, at Azuma Sports Park, a Fukushima police spokesperson told Agence France-Presse. "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 spokesman said.
Local media identified the creature as an Asian black bear, estimated to be around three feet tall. According to the Japanese outlet Sports Hochi, officials tried to play loud music and set off firecrackers in an attempt to scare the bear away. But evidently, authorities weren't too concerned — just hours after Wednesday's bear sighting, Japan and Australia competed in a softball match at Azuma Sports Park. Japan won, 8-1. (The bear, we assume was watching.)
The Olympics will officially begin at Friday's opening ceremony, but at this point, who knows what might derail the competition? Bear aside, authorities already had to spend $1.28 million USD on removing around 31,000 oysters from the Sea Forest Waterway. And, unsurprisingly, the International Olympic Committee's decision not to require vaccinations has already backfired: As of Thursday, 18 athletes have pulled out of the Games after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Olympics have been under a lot of scrutiny this year. Aside from the fact that health experts suggested another postponement, citing rising COVID numbers in Japan, several recent incidents have shone a light on the ways in which Black athletes are barred from competing. There was the ban on Soul Caps, a swim cap brand catered towards the specific hair needs of Black swimmers; then, there was the testosterone limit, which prevented athletes like Caster Semenya, Christine Mboma, and Beatrice Masilingi from participating in the Games. And, earlier this month, there was a major outcry when track and field star Sha'Carri Richardson was suspended from Team U.S.A. for smoking marijuana — a drug that's legal in Oregon, where Richardson was competing at the time.
Again, the opening ceremony is on Friday, July 23. At this point, if a three-foot bear upends everything and puts a stop to the games, it won't even be the worst, messiest, or most disappointing part of this year's Olympics. We just hope he's, at least, admitted to the synchronized swimming program. We'd love to see it.