28/07/2021 - 07/08/2021

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Baseball Olympic Games 2020 - Official Payoff

Olympic baseball set to be played for first time since 2008

Olympic baseball set to be played for first time since 2008
26/07/2021
Baseball's top-ranked nations, including No. 1 Japan, No. 3 Korea, No. 4 USA, No. 5 Mexico, and No. 24 Israel, will be battling for the sport's first Olympic medals since the Beijing 2008 Games.

Olympic baseball is back for the first time in 13 years.

The Dominican Republic and Japan will open the Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball tournament on Wednesday, 28 July, at 12 pm (local time) at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium. The rest of the tournament will then shift to the Yokohama Stadium.

The six teams will start the tournament in two separate groups:

  • Group A: Japan, Mexico and Dominican Republic
  • Group B: Korea, USA and Israel

The group stage runs through Saturday, 31 July. The results will only determine the seeding for the knockout stage, which will take place from 1-4 August and have a double-elimination format.

The first-place teams from the group stage will advance directly into what is essentially a quarterfinal on Monday, 2 August.

The two second-place finishers from the opening round and the two third-place finishers will play each other on Sunday, 1 August, to open the knockout stage, with the winners of those two contests advancing to the other quarterfinal.

The losers' bracket will give another chance for teams to advance.

Winners of the two quarterfinals will meet in the first semifinal game on Wednesday, 4 August, which will send one team to the gold medal game, while the loser will be placed in the second semifinal on Thursday, 5 August. The teams advancing from the losers' bracket will determine the other semifinalist.

The medal games are scheduled for Saturday, 7 August.

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Hosts Japan enter the tournament as No. 1 in WBSC Baseball World Rankings and made no mystery about having their first-ever Olympic gold medal as a mission.

Samurai Japan's roster is based on the position players who won the WBSC Premier12 2019, including the tournament MVP Seiya Suzuki but has slightly changed its pitching staff. Despite losing Tomoyuchi Sugano, manager Atsunori Inaba can still count on some of the most talented starters in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), such as Masahiro Tanaka, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Koyo Aoyagi and Masato Morishita.

Defending Olympic baseball champions Korea were forced to make a couple of roster moves after second baseman Park Min-woo and pitcher Han Hyun-hee withdrew from the Olympic team due to COVID-19-related misconduct.

Manager Kim Kyung-moon, who led Korea to a gold medal in Beijing, replaced Park with rookie left-handed pitcher Jin-uk Kim and turned to veteran right-hander Seung-hwan Oh to take Han's place on the roster.

Ten players who helped Korea finish second at the WBSC Premier12 2019 made the final roster, including star outfielder Hyun-soo Kim, the WBSC Premier12 2015 MVP. The only pitchers who returned from the 2019 team are relievers Go Woo-suk, Cho Sang-woo and Cha Woo-chan.

World No. 4 USA have their eyes set on the gold medal. Tom Lasorda, the mentor of manager Mike Scioscia, led the US to their lone Olympic gold medal at the Sydney 2000 games.

The US qualified through the WBSC Americas Qualifier in June. The roster is a blend of veterans with Major League Baseball (MLB) experience, such as slugging infielder Todd Frazier and left-handed starter Scott Kazmir, and top prospects such as first baseman Triston Casas, the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017 MVP, and right-handed pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson. Pitchers Scott McGough (Yakult Swallows), Nick Martinez (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks) and outfielder Tyler Austin (Yokohama DeNA Baystars) are currently under contract with NPB clubs.

Infielder Eddy Alvarez was the Team USA flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony of the Games.

World No. 7 Dominican Republic was the last team to qualify, as they edged Venezuela and the Netherlands during the WBSC Final Qualifier in Puebla, Mexico. They haven't participated in the Olympics since 1992.

Manager Hector Borg was forced to make some roster moves ahead of the tournament. Pitcher Gabriel Arias, who took the roster place of Diego Goris, has yet to join the team in Japan.

The Dominican squad impressed with its power during the qualifiers. They combined for 15 home runs during a second-place run in the Americas Qualifier and used six to win the Final Qualifier.

World No. 5 Mexico and No. 24 Israel are newcomers beginners to Olympic baseball.

Mexico qualified as they defeated the US in the bronze medal game of the WBSC Premier12 2019. Since then, Benji Gil, who as a player won the MLB World Series under manager Mike Scioscia, replaced Juan Castro as a manager. The most important addition to the roster might be former MLB All-Star Adrian Gonzalez.

Israel shocked the powers of Europe during the WBSC Europe-Africa Qualifier in September 2019. Former MLB gold glove winner Ian Kinsler represents a key addition to the roster.

Tokyo 2020 – Olympic Baseball