The sport of softball is returning to the Olympic Games for the first time since 2008. USA (1996, 2000 and 2004) and Japan (2008) are the two nations to have won an Olympic softball gold medal. Australia (1 silver, 3 bronzes) has never won the gold, but the nation has won a medal in each Olympic softball event. Softball Canada has yet to medal, while Mexico is making its Olympic softball debut.
The six-team Tokyo 2020 Olympic softball tournament will open Wednesday, 21 July, with all teams in action.
Here’s a look at past head-to-heads and historical data for Day 1:
Game 1 – Australia vs. Japan
- Australia and Japan met each other eight times in Olympic Games, twice in each edition softball was held. Both teams won four times.
- Australia won twice in both 1996 and 2004, Japan won twice in both 2000 and 2008.
- The Olympic Games in 1996 is the only edition in which Japan failed to win a medal, as they lost 3-0 in the semi-finals against Australia. Australia grabbed bronze after losing the final eliminator to China.
- Australia lost 1-0 on home soil against Japan in the semi-finals of the Olympic Games in 2000.
- At the Olympic Games in 2004, Australia beat Japan 3-0 in the final eliminator, leaving Japan with a bronze medal.
- At 2008 Beijing, Japan beat Australia 4-3 in the 12th inning in the final eliminator, which meant a third Olympic bronze medal for Australia in softball.
- Japan and Australia also played their opening game of the Olympic Games against each other in 2004 and 2008. Australia beat Japan 4-2 in 2004 and Japan won 4-3 in 2008.
- Since the last Olympic softball tournament in 2008, Japan and Australia have met four times in world championships. Japan won all four games.
Game 2 – Italy vs. United States
- Italy and United States will play each other for the third time in the Olympic Games. United States won both previous games, 6-0 in 2000 and 7-0 in 2004 (the opening game of the tournament for both teams).
- Italy participates in softball in the Olympic Games for the third time. They won three of their 14 Olympic games: 1-0 against both Cuba and New Zealand in 2000 and 7-5 versus China in 2004.
- Since softball made its Olympic debut in 1996, United States have won all seven games against Italy in world championships, World Cups and Olympic Games.
- The most recent of these seven games was at the world championships in 2014, when USA won 7-0 in the group stage.
- Italy scored only one run in these seven games combined, when United States won 6-1 in the group stage of the world championships in 2006.
Game 3 – Mexico vs. Canada
- Mexico are the only team at Tokyo 2020 that will be making their Olympic debut in softball.
- Canada competed in all four previous Olympic softball tournaments. Their best result was fourth place in 2008.
- Mexico beat Canada 2-1 in 2019 at the Americas Olympic qualification tournament. Mexico and Canada were the two teams that qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games via that tournament.
- Mexico and Canada met six times in world championships and World Cups from 2012 to 2017. Canada won all six games.
- The most recent of those six games was a 12-7 win for Canada in the round robin stage of the 2017 World Cup, a tournament Canada went on to finish third.
- Excluding softball’s debut at the Olympic Games in 1996, a team making its Olympic debut has never progressed from the group stage. The best result by a debut team was fifth by Italy in 2000.