logo

The history of volleyball in the Olympics

Wed 14 July 2021 | 10:30

Given that the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is fast approaching, it is interesting to review the history of volleyball in the Olympics.

Given that the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is fast approaching, it is interesting to review the history of Volleyball in the Olympics.

In 1964 Volleyball was introduced to the Olympic Games before becoming a competitive sport worldwide. It was a simple sport developed at "Young Men’s Christian Association community center (YMCA)". In 1895 William Morgan, in the city of Holyoke, Massachusettsthe, decided to invent a new sport that was less intensive than basketball but included some physical activity and fun.

The new sport took from the rules and layouts of other sports such as basketball, tennis, badminton as well as handball. Morgan decided to call it mintonette. Later he was suggested to simplify the name to Volleyball since the main point of the game was to volley the ball to a player or over the net.

Volleyball became popular by the late 1910s and became highly competitive worldwide, leading to the adoption of a set of official rules and regulations that paved the way to the Olympics. Stay tuned to review 

the history of Volleyball in the Olympics

.

Everything You Need to Know about Olympic Volleyball History

Volleyball is one of the most popular sports at the Olympic Games. It includes three variations at the Olympics and Paralympics: indoor, beach, and sitting. Now without further ado, let's take a look at 

Volleyball at the Summer Olympics

.

Volleyball at the Summer Olympics

When a sport gains Olympic status, it is like a golden seal of approval from athletes and spectators around the world. Indoor volleyball gained Olympic status in 1957, and beach volleyball did in 1996.

Before the inclusion of indoor volleyball in the Olympics, the sport had been a global sport for many years. Being part of the Olympic Games has increased the international audience for indoor volleyball and beach volleyball, and as a result, the quality of competitions has increased significantly. So how much history has been made since indoor volleyball and beach volleyball gained Olympic status? Join us in the article on the history of volleyball in Olympics to find the answer.

The 1920s (Early Beginnings & False Starts)

Olympic volleyball began at the 1924 Paris Olympics, and at that time, the USA performed a one-off demonstration event. The sport had become more popular since its invention some 30 years ago when it was invented in the USA. But it was only a passing appearance for the indoor sport, which would take another 40 years to be admitted to the Olympics.

The 1950s and early ‘60s (Campaigning & Victory)

In 1974, the Federation Internationale de Volleyball was founded and had the official body for indoor, beach, and grass events, increasing the chances of volleyball becoming an Olympic sport. But two years, volleyball was recognized as a non-Olympic sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Finally, during the 53rd IOC session, in 1957, volleyball was made an Olympic sport, and at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, the sport made its Olympic debut.

The tournament started with both men's and women's competitions, with Japan and the Soviet Union winning the men's and women's competitions, respectively. Everything looked good until the IOC voted to eliminate the sport for the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Fortunately, the motion was dropped after passionate protests, and volleyball actually found an opportunity to continue its burgeoning Olympic legacy at that year's Games.

The late 1960s (Game-Changing Years)

The system of The 1968 Games was different from today. Originally in a round-robin tournament, all teams played each other, and the number of wins, set average, and point average, determined the final standings. But this system had several problems and most importantly the medalists could be determined before the competition had finished. 

As a result, after the winner was determined, the spectators' excitement diminished until the end of the tournament. So, the format of the competition was changed and designed, which is still used today. The 12 teams split into two groups (both women and men separate events), and teams within the group play each other once. In each group, the top four teams reach the quarter-finals, and the winners face each other in the final, where they battle for the gold medal.

The 1970s (Paralympic Volleyball Proves Itself)

Following the change of format, volleyball went from strength to strength, and development was to come. After a successful tournament in the 1976 Toronto games, in 1980, volleyball was fully introduced into the Paralympic program. This idea was contested in standing and sitting volleyball, but for the 2004 Games in Athens, the standing discipline was removed from the Paralympic program.

The 1980s (Politics & Boycotts)

Throughout the 1980s, some boycotts overshadowed the Olympic Games, which had an impact on medal placings in volleyball. In 1980, the United States did not accept to compete at the Moscow Olympics. On the other hand, the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Games in 1984, and Cuba did not participate in Seoul in 1988.

In the final of the 1988 Olympic Games, the Soviet Union and Peru faced each other, and both teams were ahead several times, and both had match points. Eventually, Soviet Union won the gold after an extraordinary performance by both sides.

Iran’s men’s Paralympic volleyball team was the star of the 1980s. The Iranian have been ever-present in the event since they began competing in 1988 and have appeared in every gold-medal match since then, winning six out of eight. Their continued success is due to their decisive play. Stay tuned to read more about the history of volleyball in Olympics.

1990s (Olympic Beach Volleyball begins)

Beach volleyball entered the Olympic calendar throughout the 1990s. At the Barcelona Games in 1992, outdoors on sand volleyball appeared as a demonstration sport before its official introduction in Atlanta in 1996. 24 teams for men and 16 for women were included in the first official tournament and expanded in Sydney 2000 to 24 teams in both competitions.

Participating countries who participated in the Games could enter two sides for qualifying into the beach competition, which was effective for the USA and Brazil in 1996. The final of men was the USA faced the USA, and the women were Brazil faced Brazil.

Cuba dominated the indoor women’s tournament. They made their debut at Barcelona 1992, taking the gold medal in three consecutive Olympic Games (1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, and 2000 Sydney).

The 2000s (Olympic Volleyball Soars)

With the dawn of the new millennium, competition between all three sports intensified, with some astonishing performances. The Sydney Games' indoor winners looked similar to those in 1996. Undoubtedly the most famous beach volleyball team of all time is Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, winning three straight Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012).

Bosnia and Herzegovina took gold in the men’s Paralympic volleyball competition in the same year, consisting of individuals who had been injured during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. Fantastic competition and performances continued in Beijing, London, and Rio. The sport has become a great success story since its first entry into the game in 1964, and now it is an integral part of the Olympics.

Olympic Volleyball History

In this part of our article on the history of volleyball in Olympics, we will take a brief look at the history of the Olympics.

Tokyo 1964

In that year's competition, volleyball's debut at the Olympic Games was exciting. In the men's event, the good Japanese spectators and TV viewers were excited to witness the battle between Japan, USSR, and Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union eventually won the title, bushing the Czechs to second place. Japan had to be content with bronze after a surprising defeat to Hungary in the second round.

Japan, winner of the 1962 FIVB Women's World Volleyball Championship in Moscow, claimed the women's tournament as expected, defeating the Soviet Socialist Republic and winning the title. The team gave up just one set in six matches to eventual bronze medalists in Poland.

Mexico City 1968

Despite a bad start, the USSR men won the gold medal at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, losing to the USA, but returned to get the gold back from Japan. In women's event, Soviet physical strength and initiative led to gold medals, while Japan finished second.

Munich 1972

In the men's event at Munich 1972 Japan team won the gold medal, as they beat East Germany to the crown as USSR finished third. In the women's competition, Soviet Socialist Republic defeated Japan in the fifth set of the final to win the title while North Korea took bronze.

Montreal 1976

Polish Men achieved the gold medal at the 1976 Games under coach Hubert Wagner in Montreal without losing a single match. Cuba entered the international stage with a decent bronze. In the women's competition, Japan faced the Soviets, and the Asian nation won the gold medal. Meanwhile, Jo Heajung led South Korea to Olympic bronze.

Moscow 1980

At the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, the absence of women's teams such as holders Japan and Korea, USA and China affected the fifth Olympic Women's Volleyball Tournament (two nations boycotted that tournament). It looked like a European Championship, and as usual, the gold medal went to USSR, Silver to East Germany, and bronze to Bulgaria. At the men's event, the gold medal went to USSR, silver to Bulgaria, and bronze to Romania.

Los Angeles 1984

The Eastern boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Games did not cause much damage to the women's tournament. Despite the boycott, there was an attractive duel between Chinese players and the host USA. In the preliminaries, china lost to the USA but bounced back to take gold. In the men's event, USSR, Poland, Cuba, and Bulgaria were missing for political reasons, and the USA went on to win the title, beating Brazil as Italy came third.

The Soviet government claimed in a statement: "It is known from the very first days of preparations for the present Olympics the American administration has sought to set course at using the Games for its political aims. Chauvinistic sentiments and anti-Soviet hysteria are being whipped up in this country."

Seoul 1988

In that tournament, the USA defeated USSR, achieving a gold medal. Argentina came third as they beat a Brazil team full of veterans. In the women's competition, USSR lost to Japan but came back in style, coming from behind in a spectacular final against Peru, and china came third.

Barcelona 1992

In Barcelona in 1992, Brazil's men achieved their first Olympic gold, losing only three sets in eight matches as the side defeated the Netherlands in the final. The USA lost in the semi-finals but returned to claim bronze. In the women's competition, Cuba won the title, and the Caribbean team finished unbeaten, with their most difficult match coming in the semi-finals against the USA. Also, USSR finished second and the USA third.

Atlanta 1996

In Atlanta in 1996, Netherlands men's side included the Van de Goor brothers Bas and Mike and Peter Blange, reached the pinnacle of their time together as a team won the gold medal, beating Italy, which included great players like Andrea Giani, Andrea Zorzi, and Samuele Papi, in the final in a five-setter. The Bronze medal went to Yugoslavia. Cuba retained their gold medal in the women's competition. In the final, the Cuban side beat China, with Brazil claiming the bronze medal.

Sydney 2000

In Sydney, the Cuban women did what seemed the impossible by winning their third-straight Olympic gold. They beat Russia into the silver medal position, with Brazil came third for the second straight. Yugoslavia, which included the Grbic brothers, Goran Vujevic and a young Ivan Miljkovic, achieved the gold medal, as Russia finished in second place and Italy third.

Athens 2004

The Chinese had an extraordinary performance in Athens in 2004, beating Russia and winning the Olympic gold medal after trailing by two sets. The Bronze medal went to Cuba by beating Brazil. On the other hand, the Brazilian men claimed their second Olympic gold after their 1992 success. The star of the tournament, Giba, was the most valuable player as the Brazilians won over Italy under Bernardo Rezende.

Beijing 2008

In Beijing 2008, USA men won the gold medal in 20 years as their female compatriots surprised many with their run to the final. But in the final, they lost to Brazil and won silver. The American men's coach was Hugh McCutcheon of New Zealand, and the women's coach was Jenny Ping Lang, the former Chinese national team player.

The Brazilian women's coach was Jose Roberto Guimaraes, who became the first coach to lead teams to Olympic gold in both the men's and women's tournaments. In Barcelona in 1992, Jose Roberto won the gold medal with the Brazil Men's team.

London 2012

In the men's event, Brazil faced Russia in the final. Russia played under coach Alekno and managed to win the first Olympic gold medal since 1980. In the women's event, Brazil defeated the previously unbeaten Americans to capture the women’s gold medal. The Silver medal went to Japan, their first medal since 1984.

Rio 2016

Undoubtedly, the most recent Summer Olympics took place in Rio in 2016. In the men's competition, Brazil’s men’s side won the gold medal, defeating Italy. The Bronze medal went to the USA. At the women’s event, China won its third Olympic gold medal with a victory over Serbia. The U.S. women’s team took home the bronze medal after defeating the Netherlands.

A complete list of volleyball Olympic winners

We wrap up Sportmob's article on the history of volleyball in the Olympics with the list of volleyball Olympic winners, which starts with the men's event.

1964 Tokyo

  • Soviet Union- Gold

  • Czechoslovakia- Silver

  • Japan- Bronze

1968 Mexico City

  • Soviet Union- Gold

  • Japan- Silver

  • Czechoslovakia- Bronze

1972 Munich

  • Japan- Gold

  • East Germany- Silver

  • Soviet Union- Bronze

1976 Montreal

  • Poland- Gold

  • Soviet Union- Silver

  • Cuba- Bronze

1980 Moscow

  • Soviet Union- Gold

  • Bulgaria- Silver

  • Romania- Bronze

1984 Los Angeles

  • Soviet Union- Gold

  • Brazil- Silver

  • Italy- Bronze

1988 Seoul

  • United States- Gold

  • Soviet Union- Silver

  • Argentina- Bronze

1992 Barcelona

  • Brazil- Gold

  • Netherlands- Silver

  • United States- Bronze

1996 Atlanta

  • Netherlands- Gold

  • Italy- Silver

  • Yugoslavia- Bronze

2000 Sydney

  • Yugoslavia- Gold

  • Russia- Silver

  • Italy- Bronze

2004 Athens

  • Brazil- Gold

  • Italy- Silver

  • Russia- Bronze

2008 Beijing

  • United States- Gold

  • Brazil- Silver

  • Russia- Bronze

2012 London

  • Russia- Gold

  • Brazil- Silver

  • Italy- Bronze

2016 Rio de

  • Brazil- Gold

  • Italy- Silver

  • United States- Bronze

In women's event:

1964 Tokyo

  • Japan- Gold

  • Soviet Union - Silver

  • Poland- Bronze

1968 Mexico City

  • Soviet Union- Gold

  • Japan- Silver

  • Poland- Bronze

1972 Munich

  • Soviet Union - Gold

  • Japan- Silver

  • North Korea- Bronze

1976 Montreal

  • Japan- Gold

  • Soviet Union- Silver

  • South Korea- Bronze

1980 Moscow

  • Soviet Union- Gold

  • East Germany- Silver

  • Bulgaria- Bronze

1984 Los Angeles

  • China- Gold

  • United States - Silver

  • Japan- Bronze

1988 Seoul

  • Soviet Union- Gold

  • Peru- Silver

  • China- Bronze

1992 Barcelona

  • Cuba- Gold

  • Unified Team- Silver

  • United States- Bronze

1996 Atlanta

  • Cuba- Gold

  • China- Silver

  • Brazil- Bronze

2000 Sydney

  • Cuba- Gold

  • Russia- Silver

  • Brazil- Bronze

2004 Athens

  • China- Gold

  • Russia- Silver

  • Cuba- Bronze

2008 Beijing

  • Brazil- Gold

  • United States - Silver

  • China- Bronze

2012 London

  • Brazil- Gold

  • United States - Silver

  • Japan- Bronze

2016 Rio de

  • China- Gold

  • Serbia- Silver

  • United States- Bronze

How did you like our article on the

history of volleyball in the Olympics

? Which part did you like the most? Comment down your views.

Read more: 

Follow 

Sportmob

 for the 

latest football news

source: SportMob

DISCLAIMER! Sportmob does not claim ownership of any of the pictures posted on this website. Again, we do not host pictures or videos ourselves. Our authors merely link to the rightful owner. Lastly, Sportmob have carefully considered and reviewed all of its content. Despite that, it is possible that some information might be out-dated or incomplete.