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Volleyball was invented at Springfield College in Massachusetts – where basketball originated – in 1895. William G. Morgan wanted to create a sport older people could play, originally calling his game “mintonette”. Volleyball became popular very quickly, and rapidly developed in other countries in early 20th century, first in Canada, then in Cuba and Japan. Half a century later, in 1947, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) was founded. The first World Championships took place the following year for men and in 1952 for women.

Brief overview of the rules

Volleyball is played by two teams of six players on an indoor court 18m long and 9m wide. Matches are played to the best of five sets. Each set is played to 25 points and, if the match is tied at two sets each, the fifth set is played to 15 points.

In a game of volleyball, the ball can reach speeds of up to 130km/h, particularly following a spectacular jump serve or smash. Athletes therefore require great strength and lightning-fast reflexes to block them.

Olympic history

Volleyball made its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 1964 Games. The women’s and men’s competitions originally were championships where all teams played against one another. Eight years later, this format gave way to a standard tournament consisting of a pool round and a final round of quarter‑finals, semi-finals and a final to determine the medal winners.

The sport was dominated by the Soviet Union and Cuba in the 1980s, Italy and China in the 1990s, followed by Brazil in the 2000s. The former Soviet Union, Brazil and the United States top the medal board and are the only three countries with at least ten medals apiece.

Events in 2024

The volleyball events will take place between the 27th of July and the 11th of August.

  • volleyball tournament (women’s / men’s)

Venue in 2024

International organisation

International federation : International Volleyball Federation (FIVB)

© Toru Hanai/Getty Images

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