The international baseball governing body has announced the qualification system for the sport at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The Switzerland-based World Baseball Softball Confederation announced Saturday (local time) that the first opportunity to qualify for the six-team Olympic baseball tournament will come up at 2019 Premier 12, the WBSC's flagship event.
The WBSC said the top finisher from the Americas and the top country from the Asia/Oceania region, excluding Olympic host Japan, will earn direct entries into Tokyo 2020. The Premier 12 will be open to the top 12 nations in the final 2018 WBSC world rankings.
In this file photo taken on Aug. 24, 2008, members of the South Korean national baseball team celebrate their gold medal at the Beijing Summer Olympics following a 3-2 victory over Cuba at Wukesong Baseball Field in Beijing. (Yonhap)
South Korea is the most recent Olympic baseball champion, having won gold at Beijing 2008. The sport was not contested at two subsequent Olympics, in London and in Rio de Janeiro, but has made its way back to the Summer Games for 2020. South Korea also won the inaugural Premier 12 in 2015.
The WBSC will also organize qualifiers for Africa/Europe and the Americas.
Its intercontinental qualifier, featuring six teams, will be the final opportunity for countries to book their spots at Tokyo 2020. The participants in this one will be the runner-up from the Africa/Europe qualifier, the second- and third-place finishers from the Americas qualifier, the two best finishers from the 2019 Asian Championship who haven't already qualified for the Olympics, and the winner of the Oceania qualifier.
The WBSC said each Olympic baseball team will feature 24 players, and they must be at least 18 years old to compete in any of the qualification events and in the Olympic tournament. (Yonhap)