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Beach Volleyball at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games

1996 Summer Games: Next Summer Games


Host City: Atlanta, United States
Date Started: July 23, 1996
Date Finished: July 28, 1996
Events: 2

Participants: 84 (48 men and 36 women) from 21 countries
Youngest Participant: INA Timy Yudhani Rahayu (19 years, 225 days)
Oldest Participant: USA Sinjin Smith (39 years, 78 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 12 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): BRA Brazil and USA United States (2 medals)


There are some unconfirmed reports that beach volleyball began as a sport in Hawai’i in the 1910s, led by famed swimmer [Duke Kahanamoku]. But most accounts place the sports’ origins in California in the 1920s where it became a popular sport on the Santa Monica beaches. It was first played in Europe in the 1930s. The first major US tournament was the Manhattan Beach Open, held in Manhattan Beach, California in 1960, still considered the “Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball.” Professional beach volleyball began to appear in the late 1970s, and by the late 1980s, it was quite popular. The sport lobbied for inclusion on the Olympic Program and this was approved for the Atlanta Olympics, despite problems with the sports’ administration. An amateur group, the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball), and two professional groups, the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) and the WVPA (Women’s Volleyball Professional Association), claimed to run the sport. The bickering between the FIVB and the professional groups caused consternation within the IOC, which finally recognized the FIVB as the governing body of the sport. The AVP and WVPA would both declare bankruptcy shortly after the Atlanta Olympics.