After an absence of 13 years, the sport of softball will make its Olympic Games return this summer in 2021 at Tokyo 2020.
Similar to baseball, it is sure to be one of the sports that will attract the attention from home fans in Japan.
But which are the teams to watch for? Where will games take place? Here is our guide to the top things to know about Olympic softball.
Top Olympic softball teams at Tokyo 2020
Just six teams will compete in the baseball competition in Tokyo, down from eight at the sport's last appearance on the Olympic programme at Beijing 2008.
The identities of all the teams are already known, with qualification having been completed in 2019. Hosts Japan are the defending champions form Beijing, while the United States will look to regain the top spot. Australia are also perennial medal contenders.
Italy, Mexico, and Canada make up the remaining teams.
Olympic softball schedule at Tokyo 2020
Competition begins before the Opening Ceremony, with games on 21 and 22 July. Competition takes a break on the day of the Opening Ceremony and resumes on 24 July, concluding with the medal matches on 27 July.
All times are Japan Standard Time (UTC +9 hours)
Wed 21 July 9:00 - 17:00
- Softball Opening Round, Australia vs Japan
- Softball Opening Round, Italy vs United States
- Softball Opening Round, Mexico vs Canada
Thu 22 July 9:00 - 17:00
- Softball Opening Round, United States vs Canada
- Softball Opening Round, Mexico vs Japan
- Softball Opening Round, Italy vs Australia
Sat 24 July 10:00 - 16:30 / 20:00 - 22:00
- Softball Opening Round, Australia vs Canada
- Softball Opening Round, United States vs Mexico
- Softball Opening Round, Japan vs Italy
Sun 25 July 10:00 - 16:30 / 20:00 - 22:00
- Softball Opening Round, Australia vs United States
- Softball Opening Round, Canada vs Japan
- Softball Opening Round, Italy vs Mexico
Mon 26 July 10:00 - 16:30 / 20:00 - 22:00
- Softball Opening Round, Japan vs United States
- Softball Opening Round, Canada vs Italy
- Softball Opening Round, Mexico vs Australia
Tue 27 July 13:00 - 15:00 / 20:00 - 22:30
- Softball Bronze Medal Game
- Softball Gold Medal Game
- Softball Victory Ceremony
Olympic softball venues at Tokyo 2020
Games will be played in two zones – one in Yokohama, south of Tokyo on the Tokyo Bay, and the other in Fukushima Prefecture.
The Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which can hold 30,000 people, will host the opening rounds of the tournament on 21 and 22 July.
All remaining games will take place at the 34,000-capacity Yokohama Stadium, home to the Yokohama Baystars of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Olympic softball competition format at Tokyo 2020
The six teams will play in a single round-robin format, playing five games each. The top two teams move on to the gold medal game, with the third- and fourth-placed teams playing in the bronze medal game.
It is a women-only competition, the counterpart to the men-only baseball tournament.
Olympic softball history
Unlike men's baseball, women's softball did not have any exhibition or demonstration games or tournaments prior to its debut at Atlanta 1996, the Games after baseball became a medal event in 1992.
The United States won the first three competitions, but suffered a surprise defeat in the Beijing 2008 final to Japan.
Australia is the only other team with a medal in all four editions, having won bronze in 1996, 2000 and 2008, and silver in 2004. China took silver in the inaugural edition, while Japan has taken three medals.