Regardless of the different criteria that analysts and fans may have, many athletes and coaches - clearly, words that surpass ours - assume that an Olympic medal is more valuable than that of the World Cup in their respective sports.
This is not the case with soccer, by the way. This seems to be the case of basketball: even the NBA phenomena made it clear by setting up for Barcelona 92 a virtuous and brilliant team like they never tried to put together for a FIBA competition.
Apart from subjectivities, there are some cold facts that certify the theory.
For example, the qualifying processes for one competition compared to the other.
It happens with basketball, handball and field hockey. In the first two, they went from 32 teams in the World Cup to just 12 in the Games. In the rest, it went from 16 to 12.
It’s so difficult to get to the games in so many team sports. So difficult to achieve in volleyball.
Rio de Janeiro will host Group A, in which Italy and Iran will join the local power. Cuba, Ukraine, Germany, Czechia and Qatar complete an area that promises high-volume games.
Brazil, which hopes to extend its record of perfect Olympic games appearances to 16, has just lost the final of the South American Championship to Argentina. Bruno Rezende, considered one of the best point guards in the world, will lead the offensive with the help of experienced Ricardo Lucarelli and Yoandy Leal.
Italy, the current world champion, will do everything possible to ruin the party at the Maracanazinho. The Italians arrive at the tournament after a defeat in the final of the European Championship against Poland. Anyway, the Azzurri have been having a good season, which included the semifinals of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL). Setter Simone Giannelli will serve the attack of Alessandro Michieletto, Yuri Romano and Daniele Lavia. Brazil and Italy last met in the VNL 2023 and the world champions won 3-1.
Tokyo, the Japanese capital and host of the 2020 Games, will host Group B, in which the locals will participate, along with the United States, Slovenia, Serbia, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and Finland.
Japan will be led by its three standards: Yuki Ishikawa, Yuji Nishida and Ran Takahashi, who will try to continue their excellent 2023 streak after winning bronze in the VNL and being crowned undefeated in the Asian Championship. The team led by Frenchman Philippe Blain is ready to face strong contenders such as the runner-up of the VNL, the United States, and the bronze medalist nation in the European Championship, Slovenia.
Poland, the favorite of Group C, will play in the People’s Republic of China. The Poles are going through another extraordinary year, with titles in the VNL and the European Championship, just as the Turkish women’s team did.
Bartosz Kurek and Wilfredo León lead the team of new stars, which includes Alexander Sliwka, Jakub Kochanowski and Lukas Kaczmarek.
Argentina, recently crowned South American champion, will seek to challenge the Poles and dreams of repeating the feat of the Tokyo 2020 medal, but first it needs to qualify.
They are joined by the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, Belgium and Bulgaria in the dream of being in Paris 2024, which they will try to achieve in the historic city of Xi’An.