Host City: Sydney, Australia
Date Started: September 17, 2000
Date Finished: September 26, 2000
Participants: 120 (0 men and 120 women) from 8 countries
Youngest Participant: Diamela Puente (19 years, 256 days)
Oldest Participant: Dot Richardson (38 years, 361 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 45 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): 3 countries with 1 medal
This was the second Olympic softball tournament, after the sport’s début in 1996. The event was held on the softball fields of the Blacktown Olympic Centre, which was built specifically for the baseball and softball tournaments of the 2000 Olympics. It was actually located in the Rooty Hill district of Blacktown, a suburb 42 km west of Sydney. Now known as Blacktown International Sportspark, it is still used for baseball and softball, but also for football (soccer) and Aussie Rules football.
The format was the same as in 1996, with a round-robin tournament followed by a Page System play-off. In the Page System, there were two semi-finals. One semi-final matched the third- and fourth-placed teams, with the winner advancing to the final, and the loser being placed fourth. The other semi-final matched the first- and second-placed teams, with the winner advancing to the grand final, and the loser playing the winner of the first semi-final in the final. The winner of the final then advanced to the grand final, playing the winner of the second semi-final.
Eight teams competed, as in 1996, all of whom had to qualify, as follows – host nation Australia; the top four teams from the 1998 World Championship (United States, Japan, China, Canada [Canada was fifth, but Australia was automatically qualified]); New Zealand from the Asian/Oceanian Qualifying Tournament; Cuba from the Pan American Qualifying Tournament; and Italy from the European/African Qualifying Tournament.
The United States was the defending champion and came into Sydney with a 110-game winning streak, but they lost three games in the round-robin and were fortunate to finish fourth and make the play-offs. Once there, however, the US won three straight games to defend their gold medal.