Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): Juan de la Barrera Olympic Gymnasium, Ciudad de México; Revolution Ice Rink, Ciudad de México
Date Started: October 13, 1968
Date Finished: October 26, 1968
Format: Round-robin tournament.
The tournament was again a pure round-robin of ten teams. The qualifying consisted of the top seven teams from the 1966 World Championships. Romania withdrew and was replaced by Belgium. The United States and Brazil were added from the results of the 1967 Pan-American Games, joined by host nation Mexico, which had no volleyball tradition.
The two top teams were the gold and silver medalists from 1964, the USSR and Czechoslovakia. The Soviets had won the 1967 Europeans but Czechoslovakia was World Champion in 1966. Although the sport had been invented in the United States, the US was not considered in the same league as the top European powers. But in their first match they faced the favored Soviet team and defeated them in five sets, winning 15-6 in the fifth. The US would win only three other matches and the Soviets would not be defeated again. In the final match, the USSR played Czechoslovakia, both teams tied with records of 7-1, but the Soviets won in straights, 7, 4, and 8.
The Soviet Union was quite fortunate. It had not been playing well of late, and had recently lost three matches to the GDR (East Germany). In their Olympic match against East Germany, the Soviet team bus was stuck in traffic and they were 90 minutes late for the match. The East Germans could have taken a forfeit, but elected not to, and the USSR won the match in five sets. Had the USSR defaulted, Czechoslovakia would have won the gold medal, and East Germany would likely have won a medal. After returning home, the supposedly amateur East German players received the same rewards from the government usually accorded to silver medalists.