The 2021 Volleyball Nations League (VNL) is to be held according to a bubble concept to preserve the original format and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. The bubble concept was developed in consultation with the VNL’s main stakeholders, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) said.
The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) announced in Lausanne on Friday that the city of Rimini, Emilia-Romagna, Italy will host the Women’s Volleyball Nations League 2021 and Men’s Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2021 in a secure bubble.
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All 16 men’s and 16 women’s teams will play in one country, undergoing frequent COVID-19 testing and not leaving the secure environment, under proposals approved by the VNL Council during a meeting, Round-robin group matches and the finals are all set to be hosted in one venue, keeping the original VNL format intact.
The FIVB is now set to advance negotiations with interested organisers. The secure bubble concept was approved by the VNL Council in January and will see the world’s top women’s and men’s volleyball teams be accommodated and compete in a single secure bubble for the duration of the event.
Sixteen teams per gender will compete in a round-robin format between May 25 and June 20 for the women’s event and May 28 to June 23 for the men’s event with the top four teams to advance to the finals.
The women’s semi-finals and finals will be held on June 24 and 25 respectively, and the men’s semi-finals and finals will be played on June 26 and 27.
According to FIVB, the latest COVID-19 countermeasures will be implemented to reduce the risk of virus transmission, including frequent testing, strict health and hygiene measures and an array of risk mitigation protocols. Enditem
Volleyball’s global governing body hopes to announce a host and match schedule in February. The 2020 edition of the VNL was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Turin in Italy and Nanjing in China had been due to stage the men’s and women’s finals respectively, with the FIVB stating at the time of cancellation that the two countries were set to be retained as host nations for the 2021 finals, but this has now changed.
FIVB President Ary Graça admitted in May 2020 that it would have been “irresponsible” for the worldwide body and organisers to go ahead with the event amid the global health crisis. The VNL was first staged in 2018, and pool matches have been played across the lobe in previous years.
Russia are the current men’s champions, with the United States reigning women’s champions.