The WBSC Softball Asia/Oceania Qualifier opens on Tuesday, with the best teams from Asia and Oceania competing for the last spot in softball’s historic return to the Olympic Games. The top six teams from Asia will join the best two from Oceania to battle through 16 games for a place in Tokyo 2020.
The eight participating teams have been drawn into two groups:
In Group A world No. 8 China will play host to No. 11 New Zealand, No. 13 Philippines and No. 23 Korea.
Group B includes the top-ranked team, No. 6 Chinese Taipei, No. 7 Australia, No. 37 Indonesia and No. 43 Hong Kong, China.
The 3-day round robin will start on Tuesday at the Shanghai Chongming Sports Training Center. The top two teams in each group will advance to the Super Round (28-29 September). The top squad in the final standings will gain the last available spot for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The top-ranked team in Group A, China opens as the favourite to advance to the Super Round. The host team has participated in the four previous editions of the Olympic Games, winning the Silver Medal in Atlanta 1996. They made the playoffs in Sydney 2000 and Atlanta 2004 but finished at fourth place. In Beijing 2008 the host team finished at sixth place, with a record of 2 wins and 5 losses. In the last WBSC World Championship, China ended at tenth place with an overall record of 6-4. In the Asian Cup 2019, China lost the final against Japan, 9-2. Last February, China won the Asia Pacific Cup, defeating Chinese Taipei in the final by a score of 4-3. In the semifinal China beat Australia, 7-2, to advance to the final game.
New Zealand comes to Shanghai aiming to advance to its second Olympic Game in history. The White Sox participated in Sydney 2000 earning two victories in seven games, against Canada (3-2, in ten innings) and Cuba (6-2). New Zealand played the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship 2018 in Chiba and ended at 13th place. Early this year they finished in the seventh position in the Asia Pacific Cup.
The 13th team in the world ranking, Philippines will try to qualify to the Olympic Games for the first time in history. At a continental level, the have finished at fourth place in the last two Asian competition: the Asian Games Jakarta 2018 and the Asia Cup. In the World Championship 2018, the Philippine team ended at 14th place.
Korea advanced to the Asia/Oceania Qualifier as the fifth overall team in the Asia Cup 2019. They also finished fifth at the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta. The Korean squad is looking to advance to the Olympics for the first time ever.
The top-ranked team in the tournament, Chinese Taipei will look to make the Olympic Games for the fourth time in history. Chinese Taipei played in Atlanta 1996, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 recording always the same record: 2-5. In the last World Championship, they couldn’t advance to the playoffs and finished in the ninth position. At a continental level, they earned the Silver Medal at the Asian Games 2018 and the Bronze at the Asia Cup 2019. They also played the final of the Asia Pacific Cup 2019, losing to China by a score of 4-3, in eight innings. Before, they had beaten Japan in the semifinal, 1-0. Two-time Olympian Su-Hua Lin will lead the team in Shanghai.
One of the historic powerhouses of our sport, Australia is one of only two countries with four Olympic medals: one Silver and three Bronzes (the other nation is the United States). The Aussies aim to qualify to Tokyo 2020 and keep the streak alive. Two-time Olympic medallist Stacey Porter will captain the green and yellow team in Shanghai. In the last World Championship Australia finished fourth place. However, as the host team, Australia was surprised by China in the semifinal of the Asia Pacific Cup 2019 and finished in the fourth place of that international competition.
Indonesia has never played softball at the Olympic Games. In the last two continental tournaments, the Asian Games 2018 and the Asia Cup 2019, Indonesia finished in the sixth place.
The lowest-ranked team in the tournament, Hong Kong, China is vying for its first softball Olympic participation. In order to achieve that they need to improve from the last two continental participations (Asian Games and Asia Cup), where the team finished in the seventh place.
The official website of the WBSC Softball Asia/Oceania Qualifier has been launched and is available in six languages — English, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Traditional Chinese — at https://olympicsoftball.wbsc.org.