The road to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will officially begin 100 days from today, with the first pitch of the XVI WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship, to be held in Chiba, Japan, from 2-12 August. The winner of the tournament will be the first nation to claim a spot into Tokyo 2020 Olympic Softball competition, not counting host Japan who gets an automatic spot as host country.
Japan has hosted the WBSC flagship softball event twice, in 1970 and 1998, so the event will be back in Japan after 20 years.
Three stadiums will host the round robin and the placement round: Akitsu Stadium, in Narashino City; Naspa Stadium, in Narita City; and Z. A. Ball Park, in Ichihara City. The championship playoffs will be held in Zozo Marine Stadium, in Chiba, with a capacity of 30,119 spectators.
A total of 16 teams from the five Olympic continents have qualified for Chiba:
- Africa: Botswana, South Africa
- Americas: Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA, Venezuela
- Asia: China, China Taipei, Japan (host), Philippines.
- Europe: Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands.
- Oceania: Australia, New Zealand.
The first Softball World Championship was played in 1965 in Melbourne, Australia. Four countries, USA, Japan, New Zealand, and New Guinea, joined host Australia to determine who would be crowned as the first women’s softball world champion. Home team clinched the title with a nail-bitter, 1-0 win over USA in the final, for their first and only world title to now.
Only four nations have won the Women’s Softball World Championship in the past. USA has been dominant with 10 world titles, and this year will be the defending champions. However, Japan won two of the last three World Championships, and will look for its 4th title as the host team. Australia and New Zealand won the 1st and 5th edition of the event respectively.
The pools and schedule of the WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship 2018 will be announced at a later date.