Only two days left until Men’s WOQT kicks off in Tokyo, Japan. Eight teams are up to compete for four Olympic tickets. Who will claim the berth? While some teams are heavy favourites, the rivalry looks to be quite tough. Read our preview and predictions for the upcoming competition!
Men’s WOQT doubles with the Asian Olympic Qualifier, giving one separate qualification for the best ranked Asian team. The remaining three spots will go to the best three ranked teams. If Asian team will be among the best top three in the competition, the fourth spot goes to the fourth best team at the tournament in Tokyo.
Best teams will be ranked based on wins, points, set ratio and points ratio respectively. If the score between teams is tied, the result of a match between both will decide on the winner.
The participants (including rosters) are:
The hosting team
Top three Asian teams from FIVB World Ranking
Second and third teams from European Qualifier in Ankara
Second team from South American Qualifier
Second team from NORCECA Qualifier
The competition will kick off with the match between Iran and Australia, with the competition going until June 5. Teams will take a break on May 30 and June 3. You can find full schedule here.
Who will end up with the Olympic berth?
Similarly to women’s edition of WOQT, European teams seem to be strong favourites to secure Olympic berth. Australia’s coach, Roberto Santilli, described both teams as above all of the participants at WOQT (read more here).
If France and Poland will indeed secure their berths, the toughest fight will go between the remaining participants with Iran, Canada and Australia leading the race as the favourites. Iran, Australia, Japan and China can secure on berth as top Asian team.
Iranians failed to qualify for the Olympics in the previous cycle, but are confident about reaching their goal this year. The pressure on the team is high, as federation emphasized many times that another failure will be unacceptable. President Mohammad Davarzani said his team goes beyond level of volleyball presented in Asia. Different results from the past put in question his statement, but Iranians will have a chance to prove him right in a few days.
Australia grows rapidly every year, experiencing more matches with the top teams since 2014. Many of the Volleyroos go to WOQT with the experience of previous Olympics as well as victories with their ‘local’ opponents from Asian continent.
Canada joins the trio, despite absence of captain Fred Winters and setter Dustin Schneider. The team could have been celebrating their own Rio ticket by now, as they hosted continental qualifier earlier this year. Canucks lost to Cuba in the final, surprising many of their fans. Return of Gavin Schmitt gives the team more hopes in Japan, as long as the player recovered from his injury. Coach Glenn Hoag decided to take only Schmitt as an opposite, with adding fourth middle blocker to the roster instead. Although it looks like a risky move from the coach, it is worth mentioning that Steve Marshall took over opposite’s role during World League 2015 and NORCECA OQT back in January. How will top the WOQT?
Our final call for the top four teams: