The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today is celebrating one year to go to the return of Olympic Softball. Softball will be the first of 339 Olympic events contested at the Tokyo 2020 Games, with the tournament scheduled to open on 21 July 2021, two days prior to the official Opening Ceremony.
The date also marks the 25th anniversary of softball’s Olympic debut at the Atlanta 1996 Games.
The athletes from the National Softball Teams of Australia and Japan will be the first to compete on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stage, as the official schedule of the softball competition was unveiled on Friday.
The first six games of the softball competition will be held at Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima, an area devastated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
“The WBSC and the entire softball community are honoured to have been chosen to start the Games,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.
“This is a great opportunity to showcase how our sport and athletes can strengthen the Olympic Movement and its cause, and how our sport shares and promotes Olympic values.
“We will do everything we can to help shine the best light possible on Fukushima’s transformation and how the Olympic Games are now more than ever a universal symbol of hope and solidarity for humanity.”
On 21 July 2021, at 09:00 local time, Australia will face Japan, the host team and defending Olympic champion. Game 2 will see Italy compete against reigning world champions USA. The first day of competition will close with the Mexican National Softball Team making its historic Olympic debut against Canada.
The Tokyo 2020 Games will represent the fifth time softball has been featured at the Olympic Games (1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008).
The Tokyo 2020 softball tournament consists of a single round-robin opening round before the medal games are played on 27 July 2021, with the top two teams advancing to the gold medal game, while the third- and fourth-place finishers compete in the bronze medal game.
OLYMPIC SOFTBALL HISTORY
USA leads the all-time Olympic softball medal table, having captured three gold medals (Atlanta ’96, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004) and a silver (Beijing 2008), followed by Japan (gold in Beijing 2008, silver in Sydney, and bronze in Athens), Australia (silver in Athens, bronze in Atlanta, Sydney and Beijing) and China (silver in Atlanta). USA and Australia are the only nations to medal in every Olympic softball competition.
Australia, Canada, Japan and USA have participated in every Olympic softball event. Italy will be making its third appearance, while Mexico will participate in the Olympic Games for the first time.