Host City: Barcelona, Spain
Venue(s): Palace of Sports, Barcelona; St. George's Palace, Barcelona; Vall d'Hebron Pavillion, Barcelona
Date Started: July 26, 1992
Date Finished: August 9, 1992
Format: Round-robin pools advanced teams to classification matches.
Twelve teams competed in two pools of six, followed by elimination and medals rounds. The teams were selected as follows: defnding Olympic champion (United States), host nation (Spain), 1990 World Champion (Italy), World Cup (Korea, which placed only fifth in that event but were advanced as the top four had other qualifiers) African Champion (Algeria), Asian Champion (Japan), European Champion (Soviet Union), South American (Brazil), European qualifying tournament (Netherlands and France), and Americas qualifying tournament (Canada and Cuba).
The United States had won the 1984 and 1988 gold medals. But their best player, [Karch Kiraly], had turned to beach volleyball, and they were no longer the best team in the world without him. The two favorites were Brazil and Italy. Italy had won the 1990 World Championships, the 1989 European Championships, and was the World League Champion in 1990-92. In the first match of the tournament, Japan led the US two sets to one, and 14-13 in the fourth, when American [Bob Samuelson] was given a yellow card. As it was his second yellow card of the match, he should have been disqualified and the point, and the match, awarded to Japan. But the US came back to win in five sets after the referee waived off the disqualification. The next day Japan protested. It was upheld, and Japan was awarded the match, winning in four sets, 15-13 in the fourth. Samuelson was bald, so in his support, the US players shaved their heads before their next match. They made it to the medal rounds, but were soundly beaten by Brazil in four sets. In the quarter-finals, the Netherlands shocked the favored Italians, winning 17-16 in the fifth set, and made it to the final, defeating Cuba in the semis. Brazil won the final easily in straight sets, 15-12, 15-8, 15-5. The Dutch team was the tallest in the tournament, averaging 2 metres (6-7) in height). The Dutch were coached by Arie Selinger, a Polish-born concentration camp survivor, who emigrated to Israel and later became a US citizen. He coached the US women's team between 1975 and 1984, culminating in a silver medal in Los Angeles for the American women. He then started coaching the Dutch men's team, which also included his son, [Avital Selinger]. The seventh place finish of the Unified Team was the worst finish by the Soviets/Unified in Olympic or World Championships history.