The Olympic baseball competition in Tokyo is limited to just six qualified teams, tied with softball for the most exclusive event on the Olympic program. Theoretically, every team in the baseball competition has a 50/50 chance at winning a medal. 

Opening Round 

The six participating teams are split into two groups of three. Each team plays one game against the other two teams in its group. The results of those games (six in total) are used decide the initial seeding of the knockout round. All teams advance from the opening round to the knockout round. 

Knockout Round 

The knockout round of the Olympic baseball tournament follows a complex double-elimination bracket, shown below. The top teams from both opening round groups advance automatically to round 2, while the remaining four teams contest games 7 and 8 in round 1. The loser of game 7, a matchup of the two last-place teams from the opening round, is the only team to get eliminated after just one loss. Starting after round 2, a repechage bracket gets underway, allowing teams that have suffered one loss to recover and still contend for the gold. If a team goes undefeated into the gold medal game but loses in that game, it is awarded the silver medal, despite only having suffered one total loss.  

The bracket of the Olympic baseball competition.
NBC Olympics Research