Host City: Moskva, Soviet Union
Date Started: July 20, 1980
Date Finished: August 1, 1980
Participants: 204 (114 men and 90 women) from 13 countries
Youngest Participant: Vera Leme (15 years, 298 days)
Oldest Participant: Emőke Énekes-Szegedi (32 years, 203 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 67 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): Bulgaria and Soviet Union (2 medals)
The 1980 women’s volleyball tournament was hurt by the absence of the United States team, which had defeated Cuba, considered the world’s best team, in the 1979 Norceca Tournament. The men’s tournament missed the US team but they were not a major factor, as they were not yet as strong as they would be in the 1980s.
The two 1980 volleyball venues were both part of the Luzhniki Sports Complex in the Central Lenin Stadium area. The Universalny Sportivny Zal Druzhba, or the Druzhba Multipurpose Arena, was built in 1979 and later hosted several events at the 1986 Goodwill Games, as well as serving as the home venue of the WVC Dynamo Moskva volleyball team. The Malaya Arena, or Minor Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium, was built in 1956, and since 2000 has been the home arena for Dynamo Moskva ice hockey.
The men’s tournament had 10 teams separated into two five-team groups which played a round-robin tournament to advance two teams from each group to the semi-finals. The women had eight teams, separated into two four-team groups which also played a round-robin tournament to advance two teams from each group to the semi-finals.
The original 10 men’s qualifiers were as follows – Soviet Union as the host nation; Poland as the 1976 Olympic Champion; Italy as the runner-up at the 1978 World Championships (behind the Soviet Union); Yugoslavia as the third-place team at the 1979 European Championships (behind the Soviet Union and Poland); the 1979 champions of Asia, Norceca (North and Central America and Caribbean), South America, and Africa (China, Cuba, Brazil, Tunisia); and the top two teams at the 1980 Olympic Qualifying Tournament – Bulgaria (1st), Romania (2nd). However, China and Tunisia boycotted the 1980 Olympics and were replaced by Czechoslovakia, which had been 6th at the 1980 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and Libya, which was 2nd at the 1979 African Championships. Libya would lose all five matches, all 15 sets, and was outscored 225-30.
The original eight women’s qualifiers were as follows – Soviet Union as the host nation; Japan as the 1976 Olympic Champion; Cuba as the 1978 World Champion; German Democratic Republic (East) as the runner-up at the 1979 European Championships (behind the Soviet Union); the United States as the runner-up at the 1979 Norceca (North and Central America and Caribbean) Championships (behind Cuba); China as the 1979 Asian Champion; Peru as the 1979 South American Champion; and Romania as the 1980 Olympic Qualifying Tournament Champion. Japan, China, and the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics and were replaced by the next highest non-qualified finishers from the 1980 Olympic Qualifying Tournament – Bulgaria (2nd), Brazil (3rd), and Hungary (5th).
As expected, the Soviet Union’s men and women’s teams won the gold medals, with Bulgaria winning silver in the men’s event and the German Democratic Republic (East) winning the women’s silver medal.