Tokyo, Japan, May 26, 2016 – Eight strong teams will convene in Tokyo for the Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournament, which will take place from May 28 to June 5 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
World Olympic Qualification Tournament websites:
The qualification tournament in Tokyo, which also serves as the Asian qualification tournament, will provide the top ranked Asian team and the top three ranked teams with the four Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualification slots available.
The tough cast headed by world champions Poland and 2015 World League winners France, will start their hunt along with Australia, Canada, China, Iran, Venezuela, and hosts Japan – all aiming for a hot start in the seven-day Round Robin tournament.
The range of these teams varies from being Olympic medallists, returnees and first-timers. Nevertheless these teams are expected to put on their best performances to gain headway when the tournament starts on Saturday.
Japan had a glorious past in the Olympic Games. The Asian side have flaunted their rise in the 1960s and 1970s, as they captured the bronze when they hosted the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1974, then got the silver at Mexico 1968, until they topped the podium with a gold medal at Munich 1972. The following decades have been less fruitful as they missed successive Olympic Games. They marked their return at Beijing 2008 but missed qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Poland have finished joint-fifth in the last three cycles – Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 – and are looking to break through to earn their ninth appearance at the quadrennial. The team first appeared in 1968 and finished in fifth place. The European squad is backed by their best ever finish of gold in Montreal in 1976. This year, they are inspired to achieve the same feat as they had a solid performance when they captured the 2014 World Championship title in their home soil.
Canada have participated in the Olympic Games three times and had their best ever finish of fourth at Los Angeles 1984. The Canadians are hoping to end their 24-year absence from the tournament and are putting their best foot forward to field in their well-experienced players to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
China first appeared at Los Angeles 1984 and finished three places behind Canada in seventh place. They appeared again in 2008 as they played on home territory in Beijing and had a joint-fifth place finish. The Asian side did not qualify in the last cycle but are very much determined to earn a berth in Rio 2016.
Australia finished eighth in their debut at Sydney 2000. They saw action at Athens 2004 but they dropped to equal 11th in the final standing. They missed qualification for Beijing 2008 but they have shown steady improvement, which got them a slot at London 2012. With only two of their starting seven players at the last World Olympic Qualification Tournament and a new coach calling the shots from the sidelines, the Australian team has a new take on getting the Rio 2016 berth, as they have infused a youthful and powerful line-up.
France hope to end their 12-year absence from the Olympic Games. They last saw action at Athens 2004, with a joint-ninth finish. In their Olympic debut in 1998, they finished eighth – their best finish so far. They appeared in the following edition at Barcelona 1992 but only finished at joint ninth. Their recent surge in the world stage makes a promising platform for the team to achieve new heights.
Venezuela are also seeking for a follow-up Olympic appearance. They made their debut at Beijing 2008 with a joint-eighth place finish. However, they were not able to progress in the next cycle. Their continental rivals Brazil and Argentina have always edged them. Since their rivals have already earned their spots for Rio 2016, Venezuela have a better chance of fighting for the available Olympic spots.
Meanwhile, Iran’s rise in the world stage has undoubtedly astonished many powerhouse teams. They have not only captured titles at the continental level, but have made so many memorable upsets in the last seven years. At the world stage, they have impressed everyone with their performances at the 2014 World Championship and the World League. With these achievements, Iran will certainly be a strong force in the men’s game and they are hopeful that they can add another achievement of qualifying to their first ever Olympic Games.
Each team is spruced up to fighting form and are expected to provide high-calibre men’s volleyball action.