Did FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) shortchange Asia/Iran in summer Olympics?
Volleyball competition at 2012 Summer Olympic is well underway. One odd thing: No team from the most populace continent, Asia, is represented in the sport of indoor Volleyball.
Before discussing the qualification process and how flawed it was, it makes sense to point out the distinction in qualification process for different types/classes of Olympic sports: a:Individual competition b:team competition
In individual competition, a country may sometimes have more one than one individual representing a country. That would make sense too. Be it Track and Field or Swimming, if the goal is to find who the fastest individual is, and one country may have two or several of the best in the world, it would only be fair to let the best compete and qualify, even if that implies two or three runners from Jamaica or 2 swimmers from U.S.A. However team sports are different. Here the spirit of Olympics revolves around international and inter country competition, even though a single country may have enough talent to provide more than one team in a given sport. For instance would it make sense for multiple teams from U.S.A to participate in Basketball competition or three teams from Brazil in Football? Common sense would tell us that part of the goal is to have broad inclusion for the fun and excitement.
It is in this spirit of inclusion that World Cup of Football (Soccer) grants at least one entry to each continent, albeit the stronger continents like Europe and South America, enjoy a bigger share than say Asia, Africa or North America. Football governing body (FIFA) has realized slight lower level of competition introduced by continents other than Europe and South America, is in the best interest of the sport and fans love to have a diverse inter-continental representation at this event.
No such sensibility apparently existed in International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) governing body, this year. That is why for 2012 summer Olympics, of the 12 teams that have qualified for Man’s indoor Volleyball competition, None represent Asia! This despite the fact that based on FIVB’s own ranking there were 2 Asian teams among top 12 in the world: China, ranked 10th and Iran 12th in the world prior to a fishy final round of qualification, that eliminated Asia entirely from Olympics.
What was bazaar in this qualification campaign though is that, except for Asia, other continental champions have directly made it to the summer Olympics (Africa, N.America, Europe, S.America), so why not Asia?
In the case of Asia, 10 Asians teams shared 2 spots along with other continents *additional* entries like Serbia, Australia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. 3 Groups were drawn, as follows:
Group 1, consisted of 8 teams including 4 non-Asian teams: Australia, Venezuela and Serbia and Puerto Rico
Group 2, had India with 2 more Europen and 1 extra African team.
Group 3, had again 2 European teams as well as a north American team and 1 Asian team (Pakistan).
The pairing was strange, in that weaker European teams (like Germany and Bulgaria) were not placed with strong Asian teams like Japan Iran or China. Result: Bulgaria and Germany also qualified, from group 2 and 3.
In total, 7 teams from Europe qualified! This simply does not sound fair when 2n’d teams like Germany which did not qualify from Europe got a second chance by virtue of having to beat Pakistan to make it to Olympic while Asia’s top contenders were denied a fair chance.
Given that Iran had a great showing in the world cup championship in 2011, finishing 9th in the world competition, while defeating 2nd place finisher Poland (ranked 3 in the world) and Serbia (ranked among top 10 in the world), somehow both the procedure and motivation of this obvious elimination of Asia in Olympic should be questioned.
(In case the reader is wondering what the reaction of Irans Volleyball federation to all of this has been, the answer is nothing. Somehow people in charge don’t seem to care, why would this be any different than other things they neglect?)