AVP fans are treated to some of the best teams in the world. And when they’re not impressing us at the Manhattan Beach Open and on Oak Street Beach, they’re traversing the globe, fighting for a spot in the Olympics.
I detailed the qualification process before the Tokyo games. It was my second article as an AVP writer and just shy of two months before Covid shut the world down. Oh, how things have changed.
What hasn’t changed much is the beach volleyball Olympic qualification pathway. There’s only one alteration from Tokyo 2020 – let’s revisit the process and we’ll get into that change.
The Paris 2024 Olympic Games – Beach Volleyball Qualification Period
Paris 2024 will include 24 beach volleyball teams per gender. Each country is allowed a maximum of two (2) teams to be a part of the 24-team field. The qualification process is one of the lengthiest and most complicated of any Olympic sport. Not only does the qualification window encompass 18 months (January 1, 2023 to June 10, 2024) but there are also four different methods to qualify for a spot.
Method #1 – Host Country (1 Spot)
In every Olympic sport the host country is awarded one automatic spot. This auto-bid guarantees the local crowd will have a home team to root for. Dommage… France is not a beach volleyball powerhouse, so this spot is extremely significant for their country.
Method #2 – 2023 World Championships (1 Spot)
The next way to qualify is through the World Championships in Tlaxcala, Mexico, October 6 – 14, 2023. The World Champs format is quite different from a typical FIVB event. Forty-eight teams got in with no qualifier. There are also stipulations requiring worldwide representation; that’s why teams that aren’t ranked within the World’s Top 48 play in the World Championships.
Let’s skip the complications of the format; what you need to know is:
There are six AVP Women’s teams:
- Humana-Paredes/Wilkerson (remember, they’re Canadian)
Plus Sarah Pavan playing with fellow Canadian Molly McBain
There are four all American AVP Men’s teams:
The World Champs is set to end on the day this article is posted… we’ll see where the bracket stands at sundown. At the time of writing this, six of our hometown AVP teams took top spots in their respective pools: Humana-Paredes/Wilkerson. Kloth/Nuss, Cheng/Flint, Scoles/Flint, Cannon/Kraft, Benesh/Partain, and Brunner/Crabb.
Budinger/Evans and Pavan/McBain both advanced; Schalk/Bourne and Klineman/Harward did not.
*Yes, you did read Alix Klineman! She’s back postpartum and looking for a second Olympic Gold Medal. She and new partner Hailey Harward were wildcarded into World Champs. They have a long road to catch up to their countrywomen with such a late start, but there’s still a chance that they could be in the top two US teams. Which brings us to…
Method #3: Olympic Ranking (17 spots)
Method #3 is the standard way of qualifying – the one that every avid beach volleyball fan is keeping track of. The Olympic Ranking (OR) system differs from the World Rankings in that it is the sole ranking system that qualifies teams for the Olympics. A team must compete in at least 12 FIVB tournaments to be eligible for qualification. A team’s OR includes its top 12 FIVB finishes from January 1, 2023, to June 10, 2024.
The World Champs offers the greatest number of points; they’re heavily weighted. Next are the “Elite 16” tournaments, which offer 1,200 points to winning teams. “Challenger” tournaments fall next in line, with 800 points to the winners. “Futures” offer a measly 400 points to a winning team, but teams who truly want to make the Olympics must win those to justify their ticket – futures count as one of the 12 needed events. So, in a pinch, if a team needs to pad their roster, a Futures could be the difference between 11 and 12, and may be the difference between eligibility and disqualification.
At the end of the Qualification Period, the Top 17 teams—allowing for only two from any individual country—will earn a spot in the Olympics. If a team is the third in their country, their names are skipped and moved to the next person. Even if there are five US Women’s teams in the top 17 (which is highly likely with all the AVP-caliber athletes), only the top two will go. Drama.
Method #4: Continental Cups (5 spots)
Continental Cups – the last chance for a team to earn a spot in the Olympics. The FIVB is broken into five Confederations: AVC (Asia and Oceania), CSV (South America), CAVB (Africa), CEV (Europe), and NORCECA (North/Central America and Caribbean). Each Confederation will hold their own Continental Cup Final between June 13-23, 2024. The details of each Confederation’s Continental Cup differ (international politics are often challenging…)
The gist is that If you’re a top team in your Confederation and you haven’t qualified for Paris by June 10, 2024, you get one more shot. The five winners from each Continental Cup Final secure the remaining five Olympic spots.
There are 24 Olympic spots per gender, awarded as follows:
(1) To the host country
(1) To the 2023 World Champions
(17) To the top teams in the Olympic Ranking as of June 14, 2024
(5) To the Continental Cup winners
With only two spots allotted per country, the battle between our incredible US-based AVP teams becomes one of the best parts of Olympic Qualification. I’ll touch base on who’s in the lead after the World Champs. With big points and a chance to clinch a spot in the Paris Games, everything could change after the last serve in Tlaxcala.