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2018-08-31 11:48:00 CEST

Beach volleyball Olympic qualification made easy

Our step-by-step guide to explaining how the beach elite can assure themselves a ticket to Tokyo

Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst (center) with Agatha/Barbara (left, silver) and Kerri Walsh and April Ross (right, bronze) celebrate in Rio. Photo: FIVBOlympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst (center) with Agatha/Barbara (left, silver) and Kerri Walsh and April Ross (right, bronze) celebrate in Rio. Photo: FIVB

                   Current men's ranking | Current women's ranking


Note: This article has been updated to reflect the adjustments made in the qualification system after the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic.


The race for qualification for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 2021 is on!

As of September 1, 2018, points gained on the FIVB World Tour will go towards qualification for the next Olympic Games, which will take place in the Japanese capital, Tokyo.

With Beach Volleyball Major Series tournaments offering more ranking points than any other event – a massive 1,200 points to the winning team – we are playing a significant role in many teams’ hopes and dreams of reaching Tokyo 2020.

Now if you’ve wondered how the beach elite actually qualify for the Olympics, then wonder no more – because we have the answers for you.

So behold our Olympic beach volleyball qualification guide made easy…

When is it? The 32nd edition of the Olympics will take place between July 24 and August 9 July 23 and August 8, 2021, with over 200 nations expected to complete across 33 sports in the Japanese capital. It will be the seventh time beach volleyball will feature, having made its debut in the Atlanta Games in 1996.

Who are the reigning the champions? Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst won women’s gold in Rio in 2016, while the men’s title went to Brazil's Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt. Kira retired in 2019 and is currently working her way back to the sport while Laura took 2018 off to give birth to baby Teo and partnered with Maggie Kozuch on her return. Alison and Bruno split, teaming up with Álvaro Filho and Evandro Gonçalves respectively.

Who else has won beach medals at the Olympics? Click here for a full rundown of the gold, silver and bronze medalists.

How many teams will compete at the Olympics? 48 teams (that’s 96 individual players in total) from five continents will be heading to Tokyo. 24 men’s teams and 24 women’s teams will compete for the Olympic title.

Who qualifies and how? That is the question on the lips of every beach volleyball aficionado! We’ll guide you through this step-by-step.

Thanks. So as hosts, are Japan assured of a place, surely? Absolutely, as hosts Japan are assured of two places (one men’s team, one women’s team). The decision of exactly which team gets the ticket lies with the Japanese Volleyball Federation – as long as the teams they select meet the minimum entry guidelines outlined below. That leaves 46 spots up for grabs…

And how are those places decided? Here’s where it gets a little bit more complex. Firstly, the top 15 highest men’s and 15 highest women’s teams in the Olympic Rankings as of June 15, 2020 June 14, 2021 will earn a ticket to Tokyo. These teams’ points are based on their performances at the World Championships, on the FIVB World Tour and Continental Tour Finals, with teams earning points for their finishes in these tournaments. Teams, however, must have participated in a minimum of 12 tournaments between September 1, 2018 and June 14, 2020 June 13, 2021.

How many teams can nations send to the Olympics? In the interest and the spirit of the competition, countries can only send a maximum of two teams per gender to Tokyo. This is what’s known as the country quota.

Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt (center) won the gold medal on the Copacabana for Brazil in 2016. Photo: FIVBAlison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt (center) won the gold medal on the Copacabana for Brazil in 2016. Photo: FIVB

So, if the top three nations in the women’s ranking are all Brazilian for example, the third-ranked Brazilian team won’t be competing? Yes. Exactly that. A good example of this can be found in the women’s tournament where three German teams sit in the top 15, with another sitting in 16th place. So even if four German teams lie in the top 15, only two can make it through to Tokyo. This competition creates inter-country competition, with rivalry teams from the same nation battling to finish above each other in the Olympic ranking. Interesting, huh?

How else can you qualify? By winning the World Championships. If you win that you automatically get that pass to Japan stamped, regardless of how many ranking points you’ve collected. That's what Canada's Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes and Russia's Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Viacheslav Krasilnikov did in 2019.

What if the World Champions split before the Olympics? Then the winning federation can pick which team they can send. The federation also has the power to select the two individual players themselves.

What if you’re a team from the host country, have won the World Champs, and are in the top 15? Good question! If two places in the top 15 are already automatically assured of a ticket to Tokyo, the teams ranked 16th and 17th placed teams are then moved up into qualification.

The country quota rules work the same. For the last Olympic qualification cycle, for example, there were three German and three Brazilian teams in the women’s top 15. A fourth German team were 18th, therefore the teams ranked 19th and 20th automatically qualified.

Okay, so what if you haven’t got enough ranking points on the Tour and haven’t won the World Championships – now what? All is not lost! Step forward the fun games of the Continental Cup!

The Continental, what? There are five volleyball confederations around the globe: AVC – Asia/Australasia, CAVB – Africa, CEV – Europe, CSV – South America and NORCECA – North and Central America/Caribbean. Each continental beach volleyball federation holds its own competition to put forward a nation for the Olympics. And if you’re one of the five continental winners your country will be represented in Japan.

How else can I qualify? Another route to Tokyo is through the new Olympic Qualification Tournament, where two teams per gender will qualify. Teams from the top 15 countries per gender will qualify to fight it out. Details of this tournament will be announced by the FIVB later in the season.

And that’s it? *sigh of relief* Yes!

Well that sounds pretty straight forward… You wish. Okay, one last thing…Even if you, as a player, win one of the Continental Cup competitions you are still not absolutely guaranteed an Olympic place. Should you triumph via this competition it’s up to the winning national federation to choose exactly which players go forward to represent them at the Games. So you could win the Continental Cup but still not get picked! Harsh, huh?!

The Olympic qualification began, on September 1, with the 1-star tournament in Montpellier, France, the first tournament where Olympic ranking points are awarded. Points are awarded on performance, with Beach Major Series events and the World Championships carrying the heaviest weight of ranking points.

We’ll cover the journey to Japan on throughout 2019, and 2020 and 2021 seasons, so remember to keep up-to-date by downloading our Beach App and subscribing to our newsletter.

Tokyo 2020 on Twitter

7月25日からお台場で開催される、FIVBビーチバレーボールワールドツアー2018東京大会に出場予定の #溝江明香 選手(@sayakaj)・ #橋本涼加 選手(@suzu_4_38)ペアが #Tokyo2020 に来訪✨🏐🏐🏐@jva_beachvolley

Can Japan's Suzuka Hashimoto and Sayaka Mizoe make it to Tokyo next year?

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