2017 Preview: World Grand Champions Cup to take on Olympic flavour
Japan will host the 2017 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup
The World Grand Champions Cup, which kicks off at Tokyo’s Metropolitan Gymnasium on September 5, takes place in the city which will host the next Olympics in 2020. And it is Brazil - the 2016 Summer Games hosts - who are the defending champions in both the men's and women's competitions.
After victories in 2005 and 2013, the Brazilian ladies are the most successful team in the World Grand Champions Cup women's competition. Olympic champions China, Russia, Cuba and Italy each have one title to their name.
Brazilian dominance is even more emphatic in the men’s competition where Olympic champions Brazil have won four of the six editions so far, including the last three in a row. “We would obviously love to continue this series,” is the word from the Brazilian federation.
Aside from Brazil, only Italy and Cuba have won the men's competition.
The two Brazilian teams certainly go into the tournament as the hot favourites. The men will want to back up their Olympic victory in Rio; the women will be out to make amends for their shock quarterfinal defeat to Olympic gold medallists China.
“Together with the FIVB World Grand Prix, the World Grand Champions Cup is an important event for us,” said Brazilian coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes.
Alongside favourites Brazil and China, Olympic bronze medallists and world number two USA are also a good bet for victory in the women's competition. The other three teams in the field are world number five and European champions Russia, hosts Japan (WR 6) and wildcard entry Korea (WR 10).
The men’s competition features an equally impressive line-up. Olympic champions Brazil will be looking to claim their fourth consecutive title. One of the highlights is bound to be the repeat of the Olympic final between Brazil and silver medallists Italy (WR 4), who made it into the World Grand Champions Cup tournament courtesy of a wildcard. European champions France, who currently sit in ninth place in the world rankings, will make their debut in the competition against hosts Japan (WR 14), Iran (WR 7) and Olympic bronze medallists USA (WR 2).
Another interesting question is how hosts Japan will fare. Since the competition's inaugural edition in 1993, the tournament has traditionally always taken place in the land of the rising sun. However, the hosts are yet to finish higher than third (women 2001 and 2013, men 2009).
The format of both the men’s and women’s competitions in the World Grand Champions Cup sees the six teams all play each other to decide the two winners.
Olympic city Tokyo will host Women’s World Grand Champions Cup matches from September 5 to 6, before the competition moves to Nagoya from September 8 to 10, where the matches will be played in the Nippongaishi Hall.
In the Men’s World Grand Champions Cup, the Nippongaishi Hall will play host to the first two days of the competition on September 12 and 13. The second part of the competition will take place at the Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium from September 15 to 17.
The 2017 World Grand Champions Cup will be the seventh edition of the FIVB's quadrennial event for men's and women's national teams and the final highlight of the FIVB's 2017 volleyball calendar, which also features the FIVB Volleyball Club World Championships, the FIVB Volleyball World League and World Grand Prix, and six Age Group World Championships.
World Grand Champions Cup winners
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