An Olympic sport for both men and women, played on sand by teams of two players, though in recreational encounters numbers can vary widely. The sport began to be played on the beaches of Santa Monica, California, in the 1920s, and competitions for trophies were held after World War II. In 1960, the first Manhattan Beach Open (Southern California) was held. The sport was held as a demonstration sport, an attractive focus on the newly restored beaches of Barcelona, at the 1992 Olympics, and has been on the Olympic programme since 1996. Brazil and the USA have dominated the men's events at the Olympics, though an Australian women's pair won the gold at Sydney in 2000. At that tournament, matches on Sydney's Bondi Beach drew many spectators new to the sport, attracted by the combination of physical prowess in performance and the sexual allure of the contestants. The international organizing body, the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball), confirmed in its guidelines for women athletes competing in Athens in 2004 that ‘briefs should be a close fit and be cut on an upward angle towards the top of the leg. The side width must be maximum 7cm’; and tops had to ‘fit closely to the body’. Men's shorts were baggier. ‘Sand, Sun and Sky—get involved’ was the running head of the FIVB in the run-in to the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The fourth ‘S’ was of course implicit: the successful profile of beach volleyball testifies to the popularity of the voyeuristic, sexual side of sport spectating.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.