We went into the Olympic Games after a record number of countries competed to qualify. At Copacabana and Maracanazinho, we created the places to be during the Olympic Games. Nearly every possible ticket was sold and those who came were rewarded with an incredible party. And by putting exciting competitions in a party atmosphere we made real fans and not just spectators. The TV companies responded by showing more volleyball and beach volleyball in more homes around the world than ever before.
This ambition of being the world's number one family sport entertainment is an ambition that we are making into a reality faster than anyone thought was possible. This is the work of a huge team, a team that goes all around the world.
The Olympic Games are a special showcase, of course, but our own events are just as special for us. At the 2016 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix and World League, we proved that innovation can really improve the experience of players, officials, fans and TV viewers. More fans than ever watched the events via the FIVB YouTube channel. The events could also be watched on big screens around the host city as in Bangkok for the World Grand Prix finals. They broke new records too, and not only because Brazil won the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix for an 11th time! There were record numbers of teams.
To see a new country, Serbia, win the FIVB Volleyball World League for the first time shows it is possible to make it all the way to the very top if you are ready to work hard. Our FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar featured nearly $9 million in prize money, Grand Slam events, Swatch FIVB Major Series events, men’s and women’s FIVB Open events. But the FIVB must not sit back and rest. We must always be thinking and working about how to do more for our players and our fans.
The FIVB Volleyball Men’s and Women’s Club World Championships showed how we will continue to pay attention to all the different levels of the sport. And while our development activities were highlighted by the Viva Volei training centres and the family activities in Rio, they have continued all through the year, all throughout the world.
FIVB is now 222 member federations after welcoming Kosovo and South Sudan at our ground-breaking Congress. I was also humbled and proud of the great support of all the NFs as they re-elected me as the FIVB President by acclamation for eight more years.
With hard work and imagination, we have built a great foundation for the future of volleyball and beach volleyball. We can look forward to even bigger achievements four years from now in Tokyo, especially now the plans for the Ariake arena have been confirmed for volleyball. It will take more hard work and more imagination to build on what we have created. From what I have seen this year, I know that together we can succeed.
FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F°