The 2002 FIFA World Cup Training Site for Azzurri, the Italian National Team
Sendai recieved international attention during the 2002 FIFA World Cup when it became the training site for Azzurri, the Italian National Football (soccer) Team. In commemoration, footprints of the players are displayed at the Azzurri Square, located outside the north entrance of Yurtec Stadium Sendai.
Vegalta Sendai is a professional football (soccer) team based in Sendai. The name Vegalta was coined from the Sendai Tanabata Festival, Sendai's biggest summer event, which celebrates the only day that the lover stars Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair) are allowed to meet. The team is supported by some of the most devoted and zealous fans in Japan, and every game held at Yurtec Stadium Sendai is filled with excitement and passion.
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, based in Sendai, has played four seasons in Japanese professional baseball. The team creates new ways to make baseball enjoyable through the events for fans and entertainment found at every home game in its stadium. The stadium is turning into something more than a ballpark—a park that can be enjoyed without ball play.
The bj league, a new professional men's basketball league, was created in autumn 2005 under a straightforward mantra—“we want to play basketball.” From the 2008–2009 season, the league has been divided into an eastern and western conference. Both conferences have five teams that compete towards the post-season play off games and championship games. The Sendai 89ers, who plays at Sendai City Gymnasium, brings excitement to all spectators.
Sendai Cup International Youth Football Tournament
The Sendai Cup International Youth Football Tournament began in 2002, inspired by the Italian national team’s training camp in Sendai during the FIFA World Cup. Four teams—two from Europe and South America, the U-18 Japanese team, and the U-18 team from the local Tohoku Region—compete at Yurtec Stadium Sendai every year. Brazil won the 2003, 2005, and 2006 tournaments, while Italy won in 2004 and France won in 2007. People get to watch future soccer stars during this exciting competition.
Sendai International Half Marathon
The Sendai International Half Marathon began in 1991 and is held every March. Prominent domestic and international runners are invited to the race and run through downtown Sendai with runners from the general public who have passed the required standard racing time. The half marathon also functions as an official trial race for the Japanese team selection for the World Road Running Championships. Approximately 1,000 runners participate every year, including wheelchair runners as well as runners invited from Sendai's international sister cities and friendship cities. You can find more information at the Sendai International Half Marathon official website.
Other international sports events held in 2006 include the Thomas & Uber Cup Japan 2006, the 2006 Pacific International Men's Softball Series in Sendai, the 2006 FIBA (Fédération Internationale de Basketball) World Championship. The 2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup for Women was held in 2007. The IRB Pucific Nations Cup 2008 was held here in Sendai last year. The Pre-Olympic Women's Softball Tour was also held in 2008 with participation from Canada, Netherlands, and Japan's own team. Sendai is committed to attracting and developing international sports events.