Host City: Barcelona, Spain
Venue(s): Granollers Palace of Sports, Granollers; St. George's Palace, Barcelona
Date Started: July 27, 1992
Date Finished: August 8, 1992
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to classification matches.
The men's field was largely determined at the 1990 World Championships: champions Sweden, runners-up USSR, Romania, Yugoslavia, Spain, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and East Germany qualified. As Spain was already placed as the host nation, ninth placed France also was invited. The changes in Eastern Europe meant that the Unified Team played instead of the USSR, and the DDR had been merged into Germany. UN sanctions meant that Yugoslavia couldn't compete, and they were substituted by Iceland, 10th at the Worlds. The continental qualifiers were Egypt, Cuba and South-Korea, but Cuba forfeited its spot, boycotting Seoul, allowing Brazil to make its Olympic début.
In the pool phase, the Swedish World Champions displayed superiority, winning all pool matches with relative ease. More remarkable was the performance of tiny Iceland. The small nation, substituting for Yugoslavia, only lost to Sweden, drew Czechoslovakia and earned a narrow but deserved win over 1988 silver medallist South Korea (26-24). This earned them second place in their pool, and thus a spot in the semis. The picture in the other pool was quite similar: the former Soviets, who had lost the 1990 World Championships final, won all their pool matches. Their only difficult match was against France, the surprise of pool B, defeating Spain in their first match (18-16) and losing narrowly against the Unified Team (23-22).
In the semi-finals, a sensation was in the air, as the Icelandic underdogs were leading 16-15 15 minutes into the second half. But they were eventually defeated by the strong ex-Soviets, Talant Duyshebayev netting nine goals. In the other match, Sweden led France comfortably (20-14) but saw their lead disappear quickly in the last part of the match. The French came to within one goal (23-22) but ultimately were defeated 24-22.
In a rematch of the 1990 World Championship final, the first half remained tied at 9 each. Sweden appeared to distance itself from the Unified Team in the second half (14-12), but this was overcome quickly, and the former Soviet squad won its third title, after 1976 and 1988. In the bronze medal match, the two surprise semi-finalists battled it out, France ending up on the podium.