Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium, Beijing; Capital Indoor Stadium, Beijing
Date Started: August 10, 2008
Date Finished: August 24, 2008
In the now standard format, 12 teams competed, separated into two pools of six, followed by elimination and medal/placement matches. The qualifying teams were selected as follows: host nation (China), World Cup (Brazil, Russia, Bulgaria), Continental qualifiers (Egypt, Japan, Serbia, United States, Venezuela), and qualifying tournaments (Italy, Poland, Germany).
Brazil was the heavy favorite, having won the last two World Championships and the 2003 and 2007 World Cup. But high drama surrounded the men's volleyball tournament after a shocking event on the morning after the Opening Ceremony. A group of tourists were visiting the Drum Tower, when a man and woman couple, and their tour guide, were attacked by a deranged man. The man was killed and the woman severely injured. This couple was the mother and father of Wiz Bachman, who had played volleyball for the US at the 2004 Olympics, and who was married to the US men's coach, Hugh McCutcheon. McCutcheon withdrew from coaching the team for several matches, as he and his wife kept watch over her mother in the hospital. She eventually survived and during the second week of the Beijing Olympics, was transported back to the United States for further medical care. McCutcheon then resumed coaching the US team. And in a Cinderella story, the US team, 2008 World League Champion, kept winning. They made it to the final, but once there they had to face favored Brazil. Given little chance, the United States upset the Brazilians and won the gold medal in four sets, after losing the opening set.