A total of 12 countries will participate in the volleyball tournament at the 2024 Olympics, with the host nation France having already booked a spot in the competition.
The remaining 11 countries will advance to the competition through two different avenues: The qualifiers and the World Ranking qualification pathway.
Six countries — the winners and runners-up from Pool A, B and C — will advance to the Olympics after the qualifiers in September.
Five other countries will then land in the Olympics based on the FIVB World Rankings by June 2024, prioritizing continents that do not have qualified teams in the competition.
Korea, who is ranked at No. 23 on the FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Ranking, will be facing No. 2 Italy, No. 4 United States, No. 10 Poland, No. 13 Germany, No. 15 Thailand, No. 19 Colombia and No. 25 Slovenia in Pool C.
Pool A includes top-ranking Serbia alongside No. 5 China, No. 9 Dominican Republic, No. 12 the Netherlands, No. 14 Canada, No. 18 the Czech Republic, No. 20 Mexico and No. 24 Ukraine.
Over in Pool B, No. 3 Brazil will compete against No. 6 Japan, No. 7 Turkey, No. 11 Belgium, No. 16 Bulgaria, No. 17 Puerto Rico, No. 22 Argentina and No. 26 Peru.
The qualifiers will be tough for Korea, not just because they are facing higher-ranked countries, but also because they are competing without 2020 Tokyo Olympics stars Kim Yeon-koung and Yang Hyo-jin, who both retired from the team after the Games.
Korea may not have volleyball at all in the upcoming Olympics if the women’s team does not make it out of the qualifiers, because their men’s volleyball team, ranked at No. 34 as of Mach 19, failed to even qualify for the qualifiers.
Both teams have seen little success on the international stage in recent years, although the women’s team did reach the semifinal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The men’s volleyball team did not compete in Tokyo after failing to make it out of the qualifiers. The last time they took part in the Olympics was in 2000 in Australia, when they finished in ninth place. They have never medaled in the competition.
The women’s volleyball team has done better than men’s on the international stage, but not significantly. They earned one bronze medal in the 1976 Olympics in Canada and finished in fourth place twice in the past three Olympics: In 2012 and 2020.
That success was short-lived, however, with Korea performing exceptionally poorly at the Volley Nations League in July 2022, finishing in dead last place without a single win.
That disastrous finish in the event came after Kim Yeon-koung, Kim Su-ji and Yang retired from the national team.
The women’s team will not only take part in the Olympics qualifiers this year, but also the 2022 Asian Games, which was postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Historically Korea has seen some success at the Asian Games, with the women’s team holding a total of two gold, eight silver and four bronze finishes. The most recent gold is from the 2014 Asiad, when Kim Yeon-koung was the captain.
The women’s volleyball team will be called up training ahead of the qualifiers and the 2022 Asian Games, both scheduled in September.
BY PAIK JI-HWAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]