Things to know about the baseball competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics:

THE ABSOLUTE BASICS

South Korean players take a victory lap for their supporters as the team celebrate their gold medal at the end of the men’s baseball final against Cuba at Wukesong Baseball Stadium during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, on August 23, 2008. AFP PHOTO / Omar TORRES (Photo by OMAR TORRES / AFP)

  • Baseball returns to the Olympics after being rejected following the 2008 Beijing Games.
  • Six teams will be split into two groups for a first leg of the round robin: Israel, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the United States and a team to be decided in qualifying later this month.
  • From there, it gets complicated. The second place of each group will compete, as will the teams classified third. The loser of the match ranked third will be eliminated first, and the remainder of the tournament will be a double knockout.
  • The matches of the last nine rounds, with each team being awarded three outs on their turn at bat. The team that scores the most points when hitting during the match wins.
  • A mercy rule in non-medal games, they will end if a team loses by 15 or more runs after at least five innings at bat, or loses by 10 or more runs after at least seven innings.
  • Each team will have 24 men.
  • Batters swing with sticks, trying to make contact with shots of sometimes over 100 mph (161 km / h) from a small, leather-covered ball.

HOW MANY MEDALS?

A gold, a silver and a bronze are in play, so half of the peloton will reach the podium.

WHAT HAPPENED IN BEIJING?

South Korea won the fifth Olympic baseball tournament, joining triple winners Cuba and the United States as gold medalists in the sport.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN TOKYO?

Japan and South Korea have the advantage of recruiting players from their top national leagues, which are among the most competitive in the world.

WHAT’S UP?

In an effort to speed up the pace of the game, pitchers will for the first time be limited to 20 seconds between throws, and mid-inning pauses will be capped at 90 seconds, unless broadcasters make special requests.

WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?

July 28 to August 7.

WHERE IS IT?

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, home of baseball and softball, is pictured during a media tour in Fukushima on August 3, 2019.

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, home of baseball and softball, is pictured during a media tour in Fukushima on August 3, 2019 (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium will host a game, despite concerns about its location near nuclear contamination due to a power plant disaster in 2011. All other games are up for grabs. Yokohama Stadium, which can accommodate 34,000 people.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Major League Baseball, the American professional league and the premier world league, has repeatedly refused to interrupt its annual season to allow players to compete in the Olympics. This hurt competition and left Olympic officials indifferent to incorporating the sport into their regular schedule.

WANT THAT

the Covid-19 pandemic narrowed the competitive field and pushed roster decisions to the last minute. China and Chinese Taipei refused to travel for qualifying and dropped out. The Japan manager said in January that his shortlist included more than 180 players, given health and safety uncertainties.

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