FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour returning to Sochi, Russia for FIVB Open

Returning to Russia for the 12th consecutive year, the 2015/2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour will have two events in the country, starting with the double-gender FIVB Sochi Open presented by VTB, to be held in Sochi on May 3-8. The event in Sochi will be the 18th FIVB men’s event and the 16th time a FIVB women’s tournament will be held in Russia.

A total of 32 previous FIVB World Tour events have been staged in Russia. Besides Sochi, the other Russian cities that have hosted a FIVB World Tour event are Anapa, Moscow and St. Petersburg. This year’s FIVB Moscow Grand Slam will be held May 24-29.

The first men’s FIVB World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil while the first women’s FIVB World Tour event in Brazil was played in 1993 in Rio de Janeiro. The women’s FIVB World Tour held its first tournament in Spain in 1992.

The 2015/2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar began with three Open events at the end of 2015. The remainder of the 2015/2016 calendar will include multiple FIVB Open and multiple FIVB Grand Slam events along with more Swatch FIVB Major Series events, and the second Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals.  The highlight of the calendar will be the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil featuring 24 teams in each gender.

Through 2015, Russia has hosted a total of 32 FIVB World Tour events (17 men, 15 women) with Brazil leading the medal count in both genders. In the men’s totals after 17 events, Brazil has 15 medals, followed by Germany and the USA with seven each, Russia with five, Latvia and Switzerland with three each and China , Netherlands and Spain with two each. With one men’s medal in Russia are Argentina, Italy, Norway, Poland and Portugal.

After 15 FIVB World Tour women’s events held in Russia through the 2015 season, Brazil leads the medal parade with 15 total medals followed by the USA with nine, China with six, Germany and Russia with four each. Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland have two each and Spain has one medal.

The men’s championship team of the 2015 FIVB Sochi Open was Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins while winning the 2015 women’s gold medal in Sochi was Italy’s Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth.

Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Black Sea coast near the border between Georgia and Russia. The Greater Sochi area, which includes territories and localities subordinated to Sochi proper, has a total area of 3,526 square kilometers (1,361 sq mi) and sprawls for 145 kilometers (90 mi) along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains.

According to the 2010 Census, the city had a permanent population of 343,334 making it Russia's largest resort city. Being part of the Caucasian Riviera, it is one of the very few places in Russia with a temperate climate, with warm to hot summers and mild winters.

With the alpine and Nordic events held at the nearby ski resort of Roza Khutor, Sochi hosted the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014, as well as the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix from 2014 until at least 2020. It will also be one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The event continues the road to Rio that lasts until June 13, 2016 with FIVB World Tour events counting towards the Olympic Ranking in order to determine the 15 of 24 spots for each gender that will take part in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The 2016 FIVB World Ranking system will again include FIVB Beach Volleyball Grand Slam and Open events along with additional pre-approved events at the inter-continental, continental and national levels.

Implemented in 2013, the format of all the FIVB Beach Volleyball international tournaments – whether FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, FIVB Beach Volleyball Grand Slam or FIVB Beach Volleyball Open – are the same, featuring pool play followed by single elimination knockout rounds. While the FIVB World Championships had 48 teams, all other tournaments have 32 teams and begin with a qualification tournament in each gender to determine the final eight teams in the main draw fields.

Country quota playoffs are also held, as needed, to determine the final teams for qualification tournaments.

The 2014-2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball Continental Cup is back again this year as it completes its portion of the qualification process for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.