The Olympic softball competition is limited to just six qualified teams, tied with baseball for the most exclusive event on the Olympic program. Theoretically, every team in the softball competition has a 50/50 chance at winning a medal.
Each of the six participating teams plays one game against each of the other five teams in the opening round. Teams are ranked after the opening round by win-loss record. If two teams are tied in record at the end of the round, the team that won the matchup between both teams is ranked higher. The first- and second-ranked teams advance to the gold medal game, while the third- and fourth-ranked teams advance to the bronze medal game. The remaining two teams are eliminated.
Both the gold and bronze medal games are contested over a single seven-inning, winner-take-all game. The home team is the higher ranked of the two teams involved in each game.