FUKUSHIMA, Japan: While the U.S. softball team are off chasing a brown bear https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb/olympics-softball-olympic-softballers-hunt-roaming-bear-no-luck-finding-it-so-far-idUSL8N2OY0EH spotted near one of the Tokyo stadiums, the Australian squad already have their animal kingdom cheerleader.
Skippy, an inflatable kangaroo about one metre tall, has travelled with the national team since 2009 and Australian left fielder Jade Wall explained his importance after she drove in the lone run in Australia's 1-0 win over Italy on Thursday.
"He loves coming to train, loves coming to the games, everywhere we go," Wall told a news conference. "We want to bring entertainment on the field, and he brings the entertainment off the field."
Australia is home to millions of kangaroos.
"It can be quite a serious game and have a look at Skip and you can put on a smile and get back out there," Wall said.
Australia have been in Japan since June 1, most of the time near bustling Tokyo.
Wall said Skippy preferred being near the mountains and woods of Fukushima, where the first two days of softball competition were held, even though he has not been able to enjoy the Fukushima specialty peaches given out by the bowlful to the Olympic teams.
(Reporting by Paresh Dave, editing by Ed Osmond)