The largest international volleyball competition takes place without a doubt at the Olympic Games. Although this tournament only takes place every four years, a huge hype from die-hard fans and interested occasional spectators is guaranteed. Fortunately, not only indoor teams are represented at the Olympic Games, but also beach volleyball players – and one can probably say that the latter variant also attracts most fans.
The format of the game in Olympic volleyball
Both women’s and men’s tournaments are held at the Olympic Games. A total of 12 teams are allowed for indoor volleyball, while 24 beach volleyball teams compete against each other.
A team can qualify for the tournament in a number of ways. The host country of the Olympic Games is always set automatically, as are the six best teams in the so-called Intercontinental Qualifiers (intercontinental qualifying tournaments), which are specially organized for the Olympic Games. The remaining teams are determined in continental qualifying tournaments, with each continent being allowed to send one team.
The qualification for the beach volleyball tournament is a bit more complicated. Here, too, the host country is always set, as is the winning team of the last World Cup. However, the majority of the teams (15 in total) enter the competition through the FIVB Beach Volleyball Olympic Ranking System. All other places will then be distributed to the winners of the continental cups and two teams can still secure a place via the Olympic qualification tournament of the FIVB.
The indoor competition always starts with a preliminary round, which is held in two groups of six teams each, with everyone competing against everyone once. The four best teams from each group then advance to the knockout phase of the competition, which begins with the quarter-finals. The top-placed team from group A meets the weakest team from group B, while the second-placed team from group A takes on the third-placed team from group B – and so on and so forth. In the group phases there are always three points for a 3-0 or 3-1 win, while a 3-2 win gives two points and a 2-3 defeat still gives one point.
The beach volleyball competition begins with six groups of four teams each, which compete against each other in a preliminary round. The two best teams in each group are guaranteed a place among the last 16, as well as the two third-placed teams, which have the best statistics. The remaining two places in the top 16 are awarded in the so-called “Lucky Loser Playoffs”, where the remaining third-placed teams compete against each other in a single play-off match – the respective “lucky losers” also advance to the knockout phase. In beach volleyball, two points are awarded for a win, one point for a defeat and of course no point at all if the team gives up. As soon as it goes into the knockout phase, The respective winner of the game is always promoted to the next round, while the loser is eliminated from the tournament. In the final round, the winner receives the gold medal and the loser receives silver. The bronze medal is awarded in a match between the two losing semi-finalists.
The history of Olympic volleyball
Indoor volleyball can look back on a relatively long tradition at the Summer Olympics – after all, the first men’s and women’s competitions were held in 1964 and have been an integral part of the sporting event ever since. The history of beach volleyball is much shorter, as this variant only found its way to the games in 1996.
By 2016, Brazil, the former Soviet Union and the USA must be named as the dominant men’s teams in the sport, each with three Olympic gold medals. The women’s teams of the Soviet Union were even able to surpass the triumphs of the men and scoop a total of four gold medals, closely followed by China and Cuba, who were each able to take home three gold medals. In the more recent past, Brazil in particular has shown itself to be a power in sport: in 2008 and 2012, the team achieved triumph in the Olympic tournament, at the four previous events the Brazilians at least reliably made it into the top 4.
In beach volleyball, the USA has emerged as the team to be beaten, as both men and women have so far won three gold medals each. For sports bettors, this means that Americans should always be kept in mind when putting together a volleyball betting strategy . But here, too, Brazil is the most important pursuer, because the Brazilian men’s team made it into the final in five of six competitions, while the women made it into the final four times.