Russia back in the mainstream with award of Volleyball World Championship
By Simon Ward
Russia has been chosen to host the next FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in 2022.
The decision was taken at the World Congress of the FIVB, the international volleyball federation, in Cancun in Mexico on Thursday.
While there was a closed bidding process, with other candidates not revealed, FIVB president Ary Graça said that it had been “very competitive,” with the federation having "unanimously concluded that Russia's bid was the best one for the global development of volleyball."
It will be the first time that the Men's World Championship has been held in Russia since the old Soviet Union staged the event, for the second time, in 1962. The first was in 1952.
The dates and the host cities, of which there will be between six and nine, are set to be determined in February 2019.
This year’s Men’s World Championship was hosted by Italy and Bulgaria, and won by Poland.
In a conference call with journalists yesterday, FIVB director general Fabio Azevedo said that the award reflected the fact that Russia was a leading force in its sport, with “one of the strongest national teams, in men’s and women’s volleyball, and beach volleyball.”
Russia were the winners of this year’s inaugural Volleyball Nations League, and finished sixth in the World Championship.
Russia’s hosting credentials for major sports events have been boosted by the well-received 2018 Fifa World Cup, and the decision of the International Olympic Committee in February to reinstate it as a member following a protracted doping scandal involving a long list of Russian athletes across various sports.
Moreover, in September, the World Anti-Doping Agency ended the suspension of RUSADA, the Russian anti-doping agency, which had been in place since 2015.
Azevedo described the Fifa World Cup as “amazing”, saying that it had demonstrated Russia’s capability to stage global events.
He added that the doping issue had not been a concern in the selection of Russia as the host of the World Championship, saying: “All of our athletes are tested many times in competition and out of competition. Volleyball is a very clean sport.”
A contrast was drawn with biathlon, in which there have been various Russian doping cases.
This prompted the decision, taken by the International Biathlon Union in February 2017, to strip Russia of hosting rights to the IBU World Championships, which were due to take place in the Siberian city of Tyumen.
Azevedo said that the FIVB would use its World Championship to further the development of volleyball, adding: “We are excited to go to Russia and keep doing our revolution in sports presentation and digital transformation.”
He added there would be a significant emphasis on “fan engagement” to inspire more people to watch and play volleyball.
The FIVB has sought to boost its following this year with the launch of Volleyball TV, an over-the-top digital streaming platform showing major events, in partnership with IMG, the international sports agency.
Graça said: “We are very excited to be partnering with Russia for the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship. We have no doubt that Russia will deliver a world-class event in which the FIVB will present the latest technologies and advancements in fan entertainment, showcasing state-of-the-art volleyball competitions.”
A bidding process is ongoing for the 2022 Volleyball Women’s World Championship, with the host set to be announced before the end of 2018.
This year’s event was held in Japan, and won by Serbia.