Japan-Australia softball game to open Olympics

The softball team of host Japan is scheduled to play the first game of the Olympics when it meets Australia on July 22 at Fukushima, about 180 miles northeast of Tokyo.

The top-ranked United States will play No. 9 Italy in the second game of a tripleheader, followed by a Mexico-Canada matchup, Olympic organizers and the World Baseball Softball Confederation said Thursday.

Another tripleheader at Fukushima follows on July 23, when the U.S. plays No. 3 Canada.

After a day off for the opening ceremonies in Tokyo, the rest of softball’s round robin is to take place from July 25-27 in Yokohama, just outside Tokyo. The Americans face No. 5 Mexico on July 25, No. 7 Australia the following day and No. 2 Japan on July 27.

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The gold and bronze medal games are in Yokohama on July 28.

The U.S. won the gold medal in 1996, 2000 and 2004, then lost to Japan in the 2008 gold medal game. Softball was dropped from the next two Olympics, then restored for 2020. It is likely to be left off for the 2024 Games and could be added again for 2028 in Los Angeles.

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