The draw has been made for this year's WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship ©WBSC

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) have revealed the groups and schedule for this year's WBSC Women's Softball World Championship, which will take place in Japanese city Chiba from August 2 to 12.

The 16 teams competing at the Championship have been drawn into two groups.

Group A contains number one seeds and defending champions the United States, along with fifth and sixth seeds Chinese Taipei and Puerto Rico.

Mexico, New Zealand, The Philippines and South Africa are also in Group A alongside The Netherlands, Europe's only representative in the pool.

Second seeds and hosts Japan are the highest ranked team in Group B and have been joined by third and fourth seeds Canada and Australia in what should be a competitive group.

Italy, Great Britain and China are also in the group along with Venezuela and Botswana.

Following the Opening Ceremony on August 2, hosts Japan will begin the tournament with a match against Italy.

The top four finishers from each group will advance to the play-off round, with the other nations drawn into the placement round.

The top four teams from each group will qualify for the latter stages ©WBSC
The top four teams from each group will qualify for the latter stages ©WBSC

The final of the competition will be hosted at the 30,000-capacity Chiba Marine Stadium.

The top nation in Chiba will claim the first of five available softball spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where baseball and softball will be returning after being axed following Beijing 2008.

Japan have already qualified for the Games as hosts.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said he was looking forward to the tournament.

"The Women's Softball World Championship in Chiba will be an exciting and challenging 73-game top-tier global competition," he said.

"The stakes will be extremely high with the tournament awarding one nation a ticket to be a part of softball's historic Olympic return at the Tokyo 2020 Games - this is where softball's road to Tokyo 2020 begins."

It has also been announced that tickets for the tournament have been released in Japan, with global sales set to begin on May 19.