For the first time since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, softball will be making its return to the world stage at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Thanks to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Olympic Agenda, which offers the host country the opportunity to select sports to be added to the competition ticket, Japan has opted to include both softball and baseball in the upcoming games.
As one of the most competitive softball destinations in the world, Japan’s decision to add the sport to the 2020 list of games makes sense. In 2008, the Japanese National Team pulled off one of the biggest Olympic upsets with a 3-1 Gold Medal victory over the United States and medaled in both the 2000 (silver) and 2004 (bronze) summer games.
Despite the fact that softball regularly appeared at the Olympics in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, it was voted off the competition ticket at the conclusion of the 2008 games. For the foreseeable future, the upcoming 2020 games could be softball’s only return to the big stage, with no plans being made to add it to the Paris 2024 or Los Angeles 2028 schedule just yet.
For now, six teams will be offered a qualifying spot for the 2020 Olympic Softball Tournament. As the host country, Japan has earned automatic placement in the games. Team USA has earned its own spot after winning the 2018 Women’s Softball World Championship and could feature the return of former Olympic medalists and pitchers Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman.
Additionally, the Italian National Team has also qualified for its place in the 2020 Games after taking home a 5-0 victory over Great Britain in the last game of the Women’s Softball Europe/Africa Event. The Americas Olympic Softball Qualifier will be held from August 25-September 1 in Vancouver, B.C., and the Asia/Oceania Qualifier set for September 24-29 in Shanghai.
RIP-IT is excited that fastpitch has been added to the Olympic schedule for 2020 and looks forward to the continued growth of the sport in the coming years.