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New volleyball format for Paris 2024

In 2024, there will be some new features for volleyball. Not on the courts, but with the organisation and format of the competition for Paris 2024. For several decades and a number of different Games, the format has been the same for the women’s and men’s events. The world’s top 12 teams were split into two pools of six, within which each team played the other five to qualify for the quarter-finals, during a pool phase that set a frenetic pace over 10 days.

The new format still involves 12 teams for the men’s and women’s tournaments, but this time they will be split into three pools of four. The preliminary rounds will involve three matches instead of five. Here, the Paris 2024 volleyball manager, Mathieu Mériaux, explains the changes introduced with this new format.

Fresher players

Following these three matches, the top two from each pool and the two best third-placed teams will qualify for the quarter-finals. The advantage with this change of format is that it will reduce the number of matches during the pool phase from five to three, giving the players more time to rest. The players will be fresher after playing two less matches during the pool phase, which will ensure a higher standard of play during the competition’s final phases.

Mathieu Mériaux, Paris 2024 volleyball manager
“The advantage is that the teams will reach the quarter-finals in better physical condition. They will no longer be faced with a match every two days, as in previous Games, which was really exhausting for the players.”

Fewer matches with higher stakes

This format will also ensure higher stakes for the pool matches, because all three matches will be crucial for qualifying. The two third-placed teams with the best record will qualify for the quarter-finals, and every match won or lost with a decisive tie-break in the fifth set will be crucial for qualifying (three points will be awarded for winning a match in three or four sets, with two points for winning a match with a tie-break and one point for losing a match with a tie-break). All three matches will also involve high stakes immediately, with no margin for error if the teams want to reach the quarter-finals. Lastly, during the final phases, the players will still have the fresh legs needed to compete in very high level and extremely intense matches for spectators around the world.

Mathieu Mériaux :
“This change in the competition moves away from the traditional format of two pools of six teams, but will improve the level of play for the competition at the end of the tournament, for the semi-finals and final. We will have teams that are of course just as motivated as before, but their legs will be fresher after playing two less matches, which will really help!”

Approach supported by the FIVB

When looking to change this format, Paris 2024 submitted a proposal to the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). After securing approval from the International Federation, the IOC was informed about this decision to change the competition format and approved this idea for Paris 2024. This new format will therefore be put in place for the first time in 2024, at South Paris Arena 1.