Each Tuesday leading up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo Olympic, which will be held in the summer of 2021, TeamUSA.org will present a nugget you should read about from athletes to watch to storylines to follow to Japanese culture and landmarks as part of “Tokyo Tuesday.” There’s a lot to learn on your quest to become the ultimate fan. Follow along on social media with the hashtag

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The U.S. is the No. 1 ranked team in the world, but Japan is right on its heels at No. 2. It was Japan that Team USA beat for the 2018 world title, just the latest big game between the two softball powerhouses. The U.S. and Japan have competed at every Olympic 2020 Games since the debut of softball in 1996 and met for the gold medal in 2000 and 2008.

Team USA had assembled another winning streak by the 2008 gold-medal game, 22 in a row heading into that matchup with Japan. But Japan turned the tables, shocking Team USA with a 3-1 win that day in Beijing. Softball was then dropped from the Olympic program for 2012 and 2016, leaving all the Americans no shot at Olympic redemption.

Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman are the two members of Team USA who were on the field for the final in Beijing and will take the field again in Tokyo. The shot at revenge is better late than never for the two veterans, who will join with younger stars making their Olympic debuts like Haylie McCleney and Dejah Mulipola. Few are as familiar with Japan as Abbott, who has played pro softball in Japan since 2009.

“Monica, just like Cat, has a ton of experience when it comes to international ball but even more so with playing in Japan,” McCleney told The Olympic Channel in April. “Knowing their culture, how they approach the game, she gets to play against almost every single one of the Japanese national team members every year so that softball IQ that Monica has is extremely valuable.”

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Olympic Hospitality |Olympic 2020 Tickets | Olympic Tickets | Olympic Packages| Tokyo Olympic Tickets | Olympic Football Tickets | Summer Games Tickets |Olympic Softball Tickets

Unfortunately for whichever nation comes out on top in Tokyo, the players know the Olympic future of their sport is again uncertain. Softball is not on the Olympic program for 2024 and will have to be reevaluated for 2028, though hope his high with those Games back in the United States where softball is popular. With the future unknown, Team USA is focused on getting that gold medal back.

“I’m counting down the days,” said McCleney, “I don’t know how many days until it’s going to happen now but I’m counting down the days.”

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