Volleyball at the Summer Olympics

Volleyball at the Summer Olympics
Governing body FIVB
Events 2 (men: 1; women: 1)
Games
  • 1896
  • 1900
  • 1904
  • 1908
  • 1912
  • 1920
  • 1924
  • 1928
  • 1932
  • 1936
  • 1948
  • 1952

Volleyball has been part of the Summer Olympics program for both men and women consistently since 1964.

Brazil, United States, and the former Soviet Union, are the only teams to win multiple gold medals at the men's tournament since its introduction. The remaining five editions of the Men's Olympic Volleyball Tournament were won each by a different country including Japan, Poland, Netherlands, Russia and the defunct Yugoslavia.

Gold medals are less evenly distributed in women's volleyball than in men's; the fourteen editions of the Women's Olympic Volleyball Tournament were won by only five different countries: Brazil, Cuba, China, Japan and the former Soviet Union.

History

Origins

The history of Olympic volleyball can be traced back to the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, where volleyball was played as part of an American sports demonstration event. Its addition to the Olympic program, however, was given only after World War II, with the foundation of the FIVB and of some of the continental confederations. In 1957, a special tournament was held during the 53rd IOC session in Sofia, Bulgaria, to support such request. The competition was a success, and the sport was officially introduced in 1964. The Olympic Committee initially dropped volleyball for the 1968 Olympics, meeting protests.[1]

The volleyball Olympic tournament was originally a simple competition, whose format paralleled the one still employed in the World Cup: all teams played against each other team and then were ranked by number of wins, set average and point average. One disadvantage of this round-robin system is that medal winners could be determined before the end of the games, making the audience lose interest in the outcome of the remaining matches.

To cope with this situation, the competition was split into two phases: a "final round" was introduced, consisting of quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Since its creation in 1972, this new system has become the standard for the volleyball Olympic tournament, and is usually referred to as the "Olympic format".

The number of teams involved in the games has grown steadily since 1964. Since 1996, both men's and women's indoor events count 12 participant nations. Each of the five continental volleyball confederations has at least one affiliated national federation involved in the Olympic Games.

Events

Event6468727680848892960004081216202428Years
Men's tournament X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X 17
Women's tournament X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X 17
Events2222222222222222234

Men's winners

The first two editions of the volleyball Olympic tournament were won by the Soviet Union team. Bronze in 1964 and silver in 1968, Japan won gold in 1972. In 1976, the introduction of a new offensive skill, the back row attack, helped Poland win the competition over the Soviets in a very tight five-setter.

In 1980, many of the strongest teams in men's volleyball belonged to the Eastern Bloc, so the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics did not have as great an effect on these events as it had on the women's. The Soviet Union collected their third Olympic gold medal with a 3–1 victory over Bulgaria. With a Soviet-led boycott in 1984, the United States confirmed their new volleyball leadership in the Western World by sweeping smoothly over Brazil at the finals. In that edition a minor nation, Italy, won their first medal, but Italy would rise to prominence in volleyball in later decades. A long-awaited confrontation between the US and Soviet volleyball teams came in the 1988 final: powerplayers Karch Kiraly and Steve Timmons pushed the United States to a second gold medal setting the issue in favor of the Americans.

In 1992, Brazil upset favorites Unified Team, Netherlands, and Italy for their first Olympic championship. Runners-up Netherlands, with Ron Zwerver and Olof van der Meulen, came back in the following edition for a five-set win over Italy. In spite of their success in other major volleyball competitions in the 1990s, Italy did not fare well at the Olympics. After winning bronze in Atlanta, Serbia and Montenegro, led by Vladimir and Nikola Grbić, beat Russia at the final in 2000 to secure the gold (in 1996 and 2000 they played under the name Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).

In 2004, Brazil beat Italy in the final, adding a second gold medal to their record and confirming their role as the men's volleyball superpowers of the 2000s. In 2008, United States beat Brazil in the final, winning their third gold medal. Russia won the bronze for the second time by defeating Italy. In the 2012 final, Russia came back from a 0–2 set deficit, not letting the Brazilians take advantage of any of their 2 match points in the third set. Dmitriy Muserskiy scored 31 points, which is an Olympic Games record in a final. Italy defeated Bulgaria and took Bronze.[2]

After coming up short in the previous two editions of the Olympics as runners-up, the Brazilians captured their third gold medal in the history of the competition playing home in 2016 after their straight-set victory against Italy in the final.[3] The United States pulled off a comeback from a 0–2 deficit to claim the bronze medal with a victory over Russia.[4]

Gold medals appear to be more evenly distributed in men's volleyball than in women's: former Soviet Union (three titles), United States (three) and Brazil (three) are the only teams to have won the tournament more than once. The remaining four editions were won each by a different country. Despite being a major force in men's volleyball since the 1990s, Italy are still the only volleyball powerhouses that lack a gold medal at the Olympic Games.

Women's winners

The opening edition of the volleyball Olympic tournament, in 1964, was won by the host nation Japan. There followed two victories in a row by the Soviet Union, in 1968 and 1972. South Korea were expected to get their first gold after beating Japan in the 1975 Pre-Olympic Games, but Japan came back again in 1976 for one last Olympic gold before losing their status of women's volleyball superpowers.

The American-led boycott of the 1980 Games left many strong volleyball nations like Japan and South Korea out of the games. As a result, the Soviet Union easily secured a third Olympic gold medal. In 1984, the Eastern bloc was, in its turn, boycotting the games, and the Soviet Union did not participate. As a result, host nation United States won its first medals in volleyball, losing the finals to China. With eastern and western nations again involved in the Olympics, the Soviet Union obtained a remarkable victory over Peru after trailing 0–2 in 1988's marking one of the most dramatic female matches of the 20th century. The 1988 games were, however, boycotted by Cuba.

1992 saw a new force go down in Olympic history: organized under the name Unified Team, the remnants of former Soviet Union went as far as the finals, but did not resist the power play of the young, rising Cuban squad. Led by superstars Mireya Luis and Regla Torres, Cuba would eventually set the record for consecutive wins in the Olympic Games by also taking the gold in 1996 and 2000 against China and Russia, respectively.

In 2004, the winners were once again China. Second were Russia who beat Brazil in a very tough and dramatic semifinal match after being down 1–2, 19–24 in the fourth set.

In 2008, Brazil finally won the gold, beating the United States in the final and losing only one set in the competition. China were awarded the bronze by beating Cuba. After a troubled start, Brazil secured the double gold in 2012 after beating favorites United States once again in the final.[5] Japan won the bronze medal after defeating South Korea.

In 2016, home team Brazil were favorites to once again win the title, thus equalling Cuba's three consecutive gold medals between 1992 and 2000. After winning all of their preliminary round matches without dropping a set, the team was, however, stunned by a young Chinese squad in a tiebreaker in the quarterfinals. China went on to win the title, their third in Olympic history, by beating Serbia in four sets in the gold medal match.[6] In the process, Lang Ping became the first person to win a gold medal as a player in Los Angeles 1984 and repeat the feat now as a coach in Rio de Janeiro.[7] China also became the first team to win the Olympics after losing three matches in the preliminary round. The United States defeated Netherlands 3–1 to capture the bronze medal.[8]

The fourteen editions of the women's tournament were won by only five different countries: Brazil, China, Cuba, Japan and the former Soviet Union. Despite becoming a women's volleyball powerhouse in the 21st century, United States still lack an Olympic gold.

Competition formula

The volleyball Olympic tournament has a very stable competition formula. The following rules apply:

Qualification
  • Twelve teams participate in each event.
  • Host nations are always pre-qualified.
  • Two teams qualify through the Men's and Women's World Cup (this number was reduced from three prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics).
  • Five teams qualify as winners of continental qualification tournaments.
  • The four remaining berths are decided in world qualification tournaments.
Competition format
  • For the first phase, called qualification round, teams are ranked by the FIVB World Rankings and then divided in two pools of six teams using the serpentine system. The host nation is always ranked 1.
  • At the qualification round, each team plays one match against all other teams in its pool. Top four teams in each pool advance, the remaining two leave the competition.
  • At the second phase, usually called final round, teams play quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
  • For the final round, matches are organized according to the results obtained in the qualification round. Let the top four teams in each pool be A1, A2, A3, A4 (group A); and B1, B2, B3, B4 (group B). Quarterfinals would then be: A1xB4; A2xB3; A3xB2; A4xB1.
  • Winners of quarterfinals play semifinals as follows: (A1/B4) x (A3/B2); (A2/B3) x (A4xB1).
  • At the finals, winners of semifinals play for the gold, and losers for the bronze.
  • The tournament implements very tight line-up restrictions: only twelve players are allowed, and no replacement is permitted, even in case of injuries.

Men's tournaments

Results summary

Year Host Gold medal match Bronze medal match Teams
Gold medalists Score Silver medalists Bronze medalists Score 4th place
1964
Details

Tokyo

Soviet Union
Round-robin
Czechoslovakia

Japan
Round-robin
Romania
10
1968
Details

Mexico City

Soviet Union
Round-robin
Japan

Czechoslovakia
Round-robin
East Germany
10
1972
Details

Munich

Japan
3–1
East Germany

Soviet Union
3–0
Bulgaria
12
1976
Details

Montreal

Poland
3–2
Soviet Union

Cuba
3–0
Japan
10
1980
Details

Moscow

Soviet Union
3–1
Bulgaria

Romania
3–1
Poland
10
1984
Details

Los Angeles

United States
3–0
Brazil

Italy
3–0
Canada
10
1988
Details

Seoul

United States
3–1
Soviet Union

Argentina
3–2
Brazil
12
1992
Details

Barcelona

Brazil
3–0
Netherlands

United States
3–1
Cuba
12
1996
Details

Atlanta

Netherlands
3–2
Italy

Yugoslavia
3–1
Russia
12
2000
Details

Sydney

Yugoslavia
3–0
Russia

Italy
3–0
Argentina
12
2004
Details

Athens

Brazil
3–1
Italy

Russia
3–0
United States
12
2008
Details

Beijing

United States
3–1
Brazil

Russia
3–0
Italy
12
2012
Details

London

Russia
3–2
Brazil

Italy
3–1
Bulgaria
12
2016
Details

Rio de Janeiro

Brazil
3–0
Italy

United States
3–2
Russia
12
2020
Details

Tokyo
12
2024
Details

Paris

Participating nations

Legend
  • 1st – Gold medalists
  • 2nd – Silver medalists
  • 3rd – Bronze medalists
  • 4th – 4th place
  •    – Did not enter / Did not qualify
  •    – Hosts
  • = – More than one team tied for that rank
  • Q – Qualified for forthcoming tournament
Team
1964
(10)

1968
(10)

1972
(12)

1976
(10)

1980
(10)

1984
(10)

1988
(12)

1992
(12)

1996
(12)

2000
(12)

2004
(12)

2008
(12)

2012
(12)

2016
(12)
Total
 Algeria12th1
 Argentina6th3rd8th4th=5th=5th=5th7
 Australia8th=11th=9th3
 Belgium8th1
 Brazil7th9th8th7th5th2nd4th1st5th6th1st2nd2nd1st14
 Bulgaria5th6th4th2nd6th7th=5th4th8
 Canada9th4th10th=5th4
 China8th=5th2
 Cuba10th3rd7th4th6th7th=11th7
 EgyptWD10th=11th=11th=9th5
 France8th11th=9th=9th4
 GermanySee  East Germany and  West Germany=9th=5th2
 Great Britain=11th1
 Greece=5th1
 Hungary6th1
 Iran=5th1
 Italy8th9th3rd9th5th2nd3rd2nd4th3rd2nd11
 Japan3rd2nd1st4th7th10th6th=11th8
 Libya10th1
 Mexico10th=11th2
 Netherlands8th5th2nd1st5th=9th6
 Poland5th9th1st4th=11th=5th=5th=5th=5th9
 Romania4th5th3rd3
 RussiaPart of  Soviet Union4th2nd3rd3rd1st4th6
 SerbiaSee  YugoslaviaSee  Serbia and Montenegro=5th=9th2
 South Korea10th7th6th5th11th9th=9th=9th8
 Spain8th=9th2
 Sweden7th1
 Tunisia12th9th12th=11th=11th=11th6
 United States9th7th1st1st3rd=9th=11th4th1st=5th3rd11
 Venezuela=9th1
Discontinued nations
 Czechoslovakia2nd3rd6th5th8thSee  Czech Republic5
 East Germany4th2ndSee  Germany2
 Serbia and MontenegroSee  Yugoslavia3rd1st=5thSee  Serbia3[upper-alpha 1]
 Soviet Union1st1st3rd2nd1st2nd7thSee  Russia7[upper-alpha 2]
 West Germany11thSee  Germany1
 Yugoslavia6thSee  Serbia and MontenegroSee  Serbia1

Women's tournaments

Results summary

Year Host Gold medal match Bronze medal match Teams
Gold medalists Score Silver medalists Bronze medalists Score 4th place
1964
Details

Tokyo

Japan
Round-robin
Soviet Union

Poland
Round-robin
Romania
6
1968
Details

Mexico City

Soviet Union
Round-robin
Japan

Poland
Round-robin
Peru
8
1972
Details

Munich

Soviet Union
3–2
Japan

North Korea
3–0
South Korea
8
1976
Details

Montreal

Japan
3–0
Soviet Union

South Korea
3–1
Hungary
8
1980
Details

Moscow

Soviet Union
3–1
East Germany

Bulgaria
3–2
Hungary
8
1984
Details

Los Angeles

China
3–0
United States

Japan
3–1
Peru
8
1988
Details

Seoul

Soviet Union
3–2
Peru

China
3–0
Japan
8
1992
Details

Barcelona

Cuba
3–1
Unified Team

United States
3–0
Brazil
8
1996
Details

Atlanta

Cuba
3–1
China

Brazil
3–2
Russia
12
2000
Details

Sydney

Cuba
3–2
Russia

Brazil
3–0
United States
12
2004
Details

Athens

China
3–2
Russia

Cuba
3–1
Brazil
12
2008
Details

Beijing

Brazil
3–1
United States

China
3–1
Cuba
12
2012
Details

London

Brazil
3–1
United States

Japan
3–0
South Korea
12
2016
Details

Rio de Janeiro

China
3–1
Serbia

United States
3–1
Netherlands
12
2020
Details

Tokyo
12
2024
Details

Paris

Participating nations

Legend
  • 1st – Gold medalists
  • 2nd – Silver medalists
  • 3rd – Bronze medalists
  • 4th – 4th place
  •    – Did not enter / Did not qualify
  •    – Hosts
  • = – More than one team tied for that rank
  • Q – Qualified for forthcoming tournament
Team
1964
(6)

1968
(8)

1972
(8)

1976
(8)

1980
(8)

1984
(8)

1988
(8)

1992
(8)

1996
(12)

2000
(12)

2004
(12)

2008
(12)

2012
(12)

2016
(12)
Total
 Algeria=11th=11th2
 Argentina=9th1
 Australia=9th1
 Brazil7th7th6th4th3rd3rd4th1st1st=5th10
 Bulgaria3rd1
 Cameroon=11th1
 Canada8th8th=9th3
 China1st3rd7th2nd5th1st3rd=5th1st9
 CroatiaPart of  Yugoslavia7th1
 Cuba6th5th5th1st1st1st3rd4th8
 Dominican Republic=11th=5th2
 GermanySee  East Germany and  West Germany8th6th=9th3
 Great Britain=9th1
 Greece=9th1
 Hungary5th4th4th3
 Italy=9th=5th=5th=5th=9th5
 Japan1st2nd2nd1st3rd4th5th=9th=5th=5th3rd=5th12
 Kenya=11th=11th2
 KazakhstanPart of  Soviet Union=9th1
 Mexico7th1
 Netherlands6th5th4th3
 North Korea3rd1
 Peru4th7th6th4th2nd=11th=11th7
 Poland3rd3rd=9th3
 Puerto Rico=11th1
 Romania4th8th2
 RussiaSee  Soviet Union4th2nd2nd=5th=5th=5th6
 SerbiaSee  YugoslaviaSee  Serbia and Montenegro=5th=11th2nd3
 South Korea6th5th4th3rd5th8th6th8th=5th4th=5th11
 Spain8th1
 Turkey=9th1
 UkrainePart of  Soviet Union=11th1
 United States5th8th2nd7th3rd7th4th=5th2nd2nd3rd11
 Venezuela=11th1
Discontinued nations
 Czechoslovakia6th7thSee  Czech Republic2
 East Germany6th2nd5thSee  Germany3
 Soviet Union2nd1st1st2nd1st1st2ndSee  Russia7[upper-alpha 2]
 West Germany8th6thSee  Germany2

Medal table

  • Defunct NOCs are shown in italic.

Total

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Soviet Union74112
2 Brazil53210
3 United States33410
4 Japan3339
5 China3126
6 Cuba3025
7 Russia1326
8 Netherlands1102
9 Poland1023
10 Serbia and Montenegro1012
11 Italy0336
12 East Germany0202
13 Bulgaria0112
 Czechoslovakia0112
15 Peru0101
 Serbia0101
 Unified Team0101
18 Argentina0011
 North Korea0011
 Romania0011
 South Korea0011
Total28282884

Medal table, men

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Brazil3306
2 Soviet Union3216
3 United States3025
4 Russia1124
5 Japan1113
6 Netherlands1102
7 Yugoslavia1012
8 Poland1001
9 Italy0336
10 Czechoslovakia0112
11 Bulgaria0101
 East Germany0101
13 Argentina0011
 Cuba0011
 Romania0011
Total14141442

Medal table, women

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Soviet Union4206
2 China3126
3 Cuba3014
4 Japan2226
5 Brazil2024
6 United States0325
7 Russia0202
8 East Germany0101
 Peru0101
 Serbia0101
 Unified Team0101
12 Poland0022
13 Bulgaria0011
 North Korea0011
 South Korea0011
Total14141442

MVP by edition

Win-loss records

Men's tournament

TeamMatches playedWinsLossesWinning percentage
 Algeria606.000
 Argentina472225.468
 Australia18414.222
 Belgium927.222
 Brazil1056441.610
 Bulgaria603228.533
 Canada22715.318
 China1239.250
 Cuba472225.468
 Czechoslovakia372413.649
 East Germany16115.688
 Egypt20119.050
 France23914.391
 Germany1138.273
 Great Britain505.000
 Greece633.500
 Hungary945.444
 Iran624.333
 Italy795128.646
 Japan563224.571
 Libya505.000
 Mexico14014.000
 Netherlands452619.578
 Poland563125.554
 Romania22148.636
 Russia483216.667
 Serbia1138.273
 Serbia and Montenegro[upper-alpha 1]22157.681
 South Korea511635.314
 Soviet Union[upper-alpha 2]514110.804
 Spain1349.308
 Sweden734.429
 Tunisia33132.030
 United States794732.595
 Venezuela514.200
 West Germany615.167
 Yugoslavia633.500

Women's tournament

TeamMatches playedWinsLossesWinning percentage
 Algeria10010.000
 Argentina514.200
 Australia514.200
 Brazil674522.672
 Bulgaria532.600
 Cameroon505.000
 Canada15114.067
 China603921.650
 Croatia844.500
 Cuba523715.712
 Czechoslovakia1248.333
 Dominican Republic1138.273
 East Germany1578.467
 Germany21714.333
 Great Britain514.200
 Greece514.200
 Hungary1578.467
 Italy281414.500
 Japan684127.603
 Kazakhstan514.200
 Kenya10010.000
 Mexico716.143
 Netherlands211110.524
 North Korea532.600
 Peru371225.462
 Poland1798.530
 Puerto Rico505.000
 Romania1046.400
 Russia422913.690
 Serbia19712.368
 South Korea682741.397
 Soviet Union[upper-alpha 2]37325.865
 Spain404.000
 Turkey523.400
 Ukraine505.000
 United States744331.581
 Venezuela505.000
 West Germany1028.200

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Serbia and Montenegro's total includes two appearances as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1996 and 2000.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Soviet Union's total includes one appearance as Unified Team in 1992.

References

  1. Black Belt Vol. 2, No. 2. Active Interest Media, Inc. Mar 1964. p. 27.
  2. "FIVB - London 2012 Olympic Games". www.fivb.org. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  3. "Brazil make triumphant return to the top of the podium". FIVB.org. 21 August 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  4. "USA grab men's bronze with fantastic comeback". FIVB.org. 21 August 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  5. "Brazil wins women's volleyball gold". espn.go.com. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  6. "China crowned champions in Rio de Janeiro". FIVB.org. 21 August 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  7. "Lang Ping became the first person in volleyball to win Olympic gold as player and coach". FIVB.org. 21 August 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  8. "USA raise high wall to stop Netherlands for bronze medal". FIVB.org. 20 August 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  9. "News detail - Olympic Countdown - Barcelona rocks to a Latin American rhythm - FIVB - Olympic Games - Rio 2016". rio2016.fivb.com. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  10. "FIVB:#Rio2016 women's #Volleyball Dream Team". fivb.com. 20 Aug 2016. Retrieved 20 Aug 2016.
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