Baseball at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Pitcher List's baseball coverage at the 2020 Olympics is here.

The pandemic that brought the whole world to a halt delayed the steadfast celebration that many of us may have previously taken for granted. One year later, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are ready to begin. Baseball returns to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. Adam SloateCarlos Marcano, Myles Nelson, and I are on the Olympic Baseball coverage team here at Pitcher List.

Today’s article is a brief overview of what to expect from baseball in the upcoming Olympic Games. Starting next week, each team will get a preview article where we discuss a bit about baseball in the country, the team’s route to Tokyo, and which players to look for on the Olympic stage.

  • Adam will preview Israel and Japan on back-to-back Mondays.
  • Carlos will preview Mexico and the Dominican Republic on back-to-back Wednesdays.
  • Nicole will preview Korea and the USA on back-to-back Fridays.

As the games get started and throughout each stage of the tournament, our team will recap the completed games and look ahead to the Bronze and Gold Medal Games.

For now, everything you need to know about the rules and the tournament format is below! You’ll also find the schedule for the seeding games, which begin on Tuesday, July 27. Feel free to comment below, reach out on Twitter, or find us within the Pitcher List Discord if you have any questions!


Tokyo 2020 Qualifying Teams

General Rules


Most of the rules in place at the Olympic Games are the ones we are familiar with from Major League Baseball: regulation games are nine innings long, the designated hitter is used, coaches can challenge a call that can be reviewed via a video replay.

However, there are two rules in place that MLB games do not use:

  1. If a game is tied after nine innings, each extra inning begins with runners on first and second base.
  2. A “mercy rule” will end a game early if a team is up by 15 or more runs after five innings or 10 or more runs after seven innings. This rule only applies to the opening and knockout rounds, not medal games.


Tournament Format


Seeding Games


  • The teams are split into Group A (Japan, Mexico, Dominican Republic) and Group B (Korea, USA, Israel). Teams will play the other teams in their group and results are used for seeding purposes in the double-elimination, knockout round.


Illustration by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)


Tournament Bracket


  • 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. (From WBSC)
  • 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. (From WBSC)


Illustration by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)




Seeding Games


Medal Games


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Nicole Cahill

Nicole Cahill is a freelance writer who focuses on mental health and sports. She recently founded a nonprofit that helps youth athletes living with mental health challenges. When she's not fighting stigma or exploring Baseball Savant visuals, you can find Nicole enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book. Portfolio: NicoleCahill.com.

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