Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Kensington and Chelsea, London
Date Started: July 29, 2012
Date Finished: August 12, 2012
Format: Round-robin pools advanced teams to classification matches.
Twelve teams qualified, with three teams coming from the 2011 World Cup standings – Russia, Japan, and Brazil; five teams from continental qualifiers (United States, Tunisia, Italy, Argentina, Australia); and three teams earning their places at three separate World Qualifiers earlier in 2012 (Serbia, Bulgaria, Germany). These 11 teams were joined by host country Great Britain, which had very little volleyball background, never before having appeared in the sport at the Olympics, and they failed to win a set in five pool matches.
Coming into London, Brazil, Russia, and Italy were seeded 1-2-3 in the FIVB standings. Italy would struggle, barely getting out of its pool, but in the quarter-finals, it crushed the defending champions, the sixth-seeded United States, 3-0, which had actually won Pool B over Brazil and Russia. Both Brazil and Russia had straight-set quarter-final victories, and easily advanced to the final, Russia beating Bulgaria, 3-1, and Brazil with another straight-set victory over Italy.
The final was closely fought, with Brazil winning the first two sets and narrowly missing straight-set victory as Russia won the third set 29-27. Russia won the fourth set 25-22, and them comfortably closed out the tournament 15-9 in the final set to win the gold medal. It was the fourth consecutive volleyball medal for the Russian men, but their first gold, although the USSR had won three golds (1964, 1968, 1980) and six Olympic medals. For Brazil it was their fifth Olympic medal for the men, all since 1984, with their third silver added to golds won in 1992 and 2004. This gave them five Olympic medals, trailing only the six won by the former Soviet Union and equalling the United States’ five. Brazil’s two Olympic golds trails only the Soviet Union’s and United States’ three.
The third-seeded Italians defeated Bulgaria, 3-1, to win the bronze medal. This was the fifth Olympic medal for Italian men in volleyball, but they were yet to win gold, with silvers in 1996 and 2004, and bronzes in 1984, 2000, and 2012.