PYEONGCHANG, February 15, 2018 - Just like on the beach and indoors, also on snow; could volleyball become the first sport to played in both Winter and Summer Olympics? In order to do so, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) hosted an exhibition game in Austria House at PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games to promote the sport.
Three-time Olympic medalist and three-time world champion Brazil’s Giba, two-time Olympic medalist with Serbia Vladimir Grbić, three-time Olympic medalist in beach volleyball for Brazil Emanuel and Chinese beach volleyball player Xue Chen, who won bronze at her home Games in 2008, were among the game’s greatest legends who took part of this exhibition.
“Austria is a winter sports nation and snow volleyball provides us with the opportunity to show that we are a strong volleyball nation too." said the President of the Austrian Olympic Committee Karl Stoss. "The goal now is to promote it; it is not necessary to have it in the Olympics programme in 4 years. It is an opportunity to show the world that we are not only good in skiing but also snow volleyball."
Austria will host the inaugural CEV European Championship from 23-25 March in Wagrain-Kleinarl and Flacha with 24 teams from each gender competing.
“I want to thank the players for playing snow volleyball probably for the first time, it is the same as beach but in a different temperature. We want to promote the snow volleyball as new sport in our federation, we like to play in mountains, outside, inside, we want it to become a 365 day a year sport for families, children and everyone.”
“The beach volleyball was far from the Olympics in the past. Next month we will be organizing the first tournament, we want to include all the federations, we know that we can’t do it everywhere in the world but we want to make something very exciting for the future.” explained CEV President Aleksandar Boričić.
Snow volleyball was born in Austria 10 years ago in the mountains of Wargain and in 2011 the Austrian Volleyball Association acknowledged it as an official sport. The FIVB is now planning a World Tour in 2019 and inaugural World Championships in 2020.
“Volleyball is a family sport for all the ages, beach volleyball started in the 80’s and then it was included in Olympics. It was my first experience in snow and I liked it so much. I lived in Russia for three years and I know it is cold but for sure there are places you can play. Also, studies should be made on the temperatures that are good for the players, their health is so important.” Giba told the press after the game.
Austria’s beach volleyball star Stefania Shwaiger, who was among the players who took part of the exhibition, strongly believes in the possibility of including snow volleyball to the Olympics programme one day.
She told AIPS: “I did not expect that big number of media and people to show up, it is a big honor for me to be here. I think the IOC will think a lot about it (including it to the Olympics) because there are many cold countries where we can play can play outside and it does not need too much investments, the snow is there, you get the net and the ball and you can play. It is different because you play with football shoes and you have the gloves and a hat on, it is still volleyball but just a different type.”
Whether the IOC will think about including snow volleyball to the Olympics programme anytime soon or not, remains to be seen but it is clear that the volleyball community is doing its best get more people engaged in its sport, no matter what the temperature is.