FACTBOX-Olympics-Key facts about baseball/softball at the Tokyo 2020 Games

March 12 (Reuters) - The 2020 Tokyo Olympics includes 33 sports. Baseball and softball were added to the programme this year.

Here are some key facts about baseball at the Olympics.

Introduced: Baseball first officially joined the programme in 1992, after featuring as a demonstration or exhibition event periodically since 1904.

Softball became an Olympic event for the first time in 1996. Both baseball and softball were left off the lineup for the 2012 and 2016 Games.

Events: Baseball is a men’s-only tournament, whereas softball features only women. Each tournament features six teams.

Rules and technique: Baseball and softball feature many of the same standard rules. Games are played over nine innings, with three outs per side per innings. Additional innings are played in the event of a tie.

Olympic softball differs from baseball in a few critical aspects. The most apparent for spectators is the pitch: softball features an underarm pitch whereas baseball pitchers throw overarm.

The standard softball field is also slightly smaller, with the pitcher’s mound slightly closer to the batter’s box.

Both baseball and softball are a mix of brains and brawn: Anticipating your opponent’s next move can be as valuable as knocking a crowd-pleasing homerun out of the park.

Top competitors: United States has been dominant in softball, winning gold at the first three Olympics in which the sport appeared. Japan thwarted the Americans at the last Games in which softball featured in 2008, sending the U.S. home with a silver.

In baseball, Cuba is a consistently strong performer, winning at three of the five Games in which the sport featured. Japan and the U.S., where the sport is wildly popular, are also frequently on the podium.

Sources: International Olympic Committee, Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games


Reporting by Amy Tennery Editing by Toby Davis