Softball is back on the Olympic schedule _ for Tokyo

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM RIO: Softball was dropped for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. It has been dropped again for the 2024 Paris Games but is expected to return for 2028 in Los Angeles.

WHAT’S NEW: What had been an eight-nation tournament in Beijing has been reduced to six: the United States, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan and Mexico. Under the new format, each nation will play a single round-robin for a total of 15 games. Third- and fourth-place will play for the bronze medal and first- and second-place for the gold. Games on July 21-22 will be played in Fukushima, the rest of the tournament in Yokohama.

TOKYO EXPECTATIONS: The United States won the first three softball gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 and has been waiting for this moment since it was upset by Japan 3-1 in the 2008 gold medal game. Australia’s team was among the first athletes to travel to the Olympics, arriving in Japan on June 1.

ATHLETES TO WATCH: LHP Cat Osterman, the losing pitcher, and LHP Monica Abbott, who relieved, are the two holdovers on the 15-woman U.S. roster, which was announced on Oct. 6, 2019, and remains unchanged.

GOLD MEDAL MOMENT: The medal games are July 27.

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More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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