When it comes to the world’s biggest volleyball tournaments, the Olympics is the clear winner. While it’s held just once every four years, it attracts a huge audience from around the world; and not just diehard fans of the sport, either, but anyone who has an interest in sports. Indoor volleyball isn’t even the only game that’s represented at the Olympics. Beach volleyball is also an Olympic sport, and its audience is perhaps just as large as that of indoor volleyball; perhaps even larger.
Olympic Volleyball Format
There are Olympic events for both men and women in both variants. 12 teams participate in each of the indoor events, with 24 teams taking part in beach volleyball.
There are a number of ways that a team can qualify for an indoor volleyball event. The country hosting the Olympics is awarded automatic qualification, and the top six teams from the Intercontinental Qualifiers also take part. The remaining teams are comprised of one qualifier from each continent.
With regards to beach volleyball, qualification is less straightforward. The host nation again qualifies, along with the winning team from the previous World Championship. However, most teams (a total of 15), qualify through the FIVB Beach Volleyball Olympic Ranking system. The remaining qualifiers are made up of the winners from each continental cup, along with two countries competing in a FIVB Olym-pic Qualification Tournament.
The indoor volleyball events begin with a preliminary round consisting of two groups, with six teams in each group, and each team playing each of the other teams in their group once. Each group’s four high-est-ranking teams then advance to a knockout phase. The first group’s best team plays the fourth-best team from the second group, the first group’s second-best team plays the other group’s third-best team, and so on. In the group stage, each team is awarded three points for a win with a 3-0 or 3-1 scoreline, two points for a 3-2 scoreline, and one point for a 2-3 loss.
In the beach volleyball event, the preliminary round features six groups, with four teams in each. Each group’s best two teams are guaranteed a place in the round of 16, as are the two third-placed teams with the best records. The remaining two places are determined by the “lucky loser playoffs” where the other third-placed teams compete in a one-off match. The winner of each match advances to the knockout phase. Each team is awarded two points for a win, one point for a loss, and zero points for a forfeit.
Once the event reaches the knockout phase, each match winner advances to the nest stage, with the loser being forced to leave the competition. The final determines which team is awarded the Gold medal and which team takes home Silver. A third-place playoff takes place to see which of the two losing semi-finalists achieves Bronze.
The History of Olympic Volleyball
The indoor volleyball event has been an Olympic fixture since 1964, with competitions taking place for both men and women in all Games since. Beach volleyball, however, was a far more recent addition, having made its first Olympic appearance in 1996.
Up to 2016, the United States, the former Soviet Union, and Brazil have won more than any other country in men’s indoor volleyball, having won three Gold medals each. The Soviet Union also achieved great success in the women’s event, with four Gold medals. Cuba and China are not far behind, however, with three Gold medals each. Then there’s Brazil, a country that has achieved success more recently in the competition, winning Gold medals in 2008 and 2012, after achieving a top-four place in each of the four previous events. After losing to Brazil in the final of the 1992 Games, the Netherlands went one step further in 1996 by winning Gold.
The United States has been far and away the most successful entrant in beach volleyball, having won three Gold medals in both the men’s and women’s events, so you’ll always want to factor them in to your volleyball betting strategy. As in the indoor event, however, Brazil are making their presence known, having appeared in five of the last six finals in the men’s event and four of the last six finals in the women’s event.