Fans from Slovakia, Canada and Australia join Brazilians in stands as some of the world's top players compete in FIVB World Tour event
With just under a year to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Copacabana beach is already getting into the Olympic spirit with the beach volleyball test event drawing big crowds since it got under way on Tuesday (1 September). The Rio Open – part of the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour – will climax on Sunday when the four winning pairs meet in the men’s and the women’s finals, running from 8.30am – 12.30pm.
For the men’s world champions, the Brazilian pair Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, competing at Copacabana is a highlight of the World Tour. “For me, Copacabana is the Maracanã,” says Cerutti. “It’s incredible to play here. The Rio locals love beach volleyball and really understand beach volleyball.”
This week’s test event is organised by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) but is also providing Rio 2016 with a chance to train staff and test operations at the venue. One of the main differences between the test event and next year is that the grandstands will seat a crowd almost four times the size for the Olympic tournament – nearly 12,000 spectators instead of this week’s 3,000.
“We’re expecting the grandstands to be full on Sunday,” says Giovane Gávio, Rio 2016 competition manager for volleyball. “So it’s a good idea to get here early.”
Rio Open schedule
Copacabana Beach, in front of Avenida Princesa Isabel.
Finals: 8am – 12.30pm
Across town by the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, the city is also in the party spirit this Sunday and Monday with a sports and culture festival to celebrate one year to the Paralympic Games.