Volleyball of the indoor variety at the Tokyo Games will feature a 12-team men’s tournament and a 12-team women’s tournament.

For each event, the 12 teams are divided into two groups of six. In the preliminary round, each team plays the five other teams within its group. The top four teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals as the format changes to a direct-elimination tournament. The semifinal winners play to determine gold and silver, while the semifinal losers play for bronze.

Tokyo was the setting, in 1964, for volleyball’s debut at the Games. Host Japan won gold in the women’s tournament, defeating the Soviet Union in the first of four consecutive finals featuring the two nations.



The tournament for both men and women consists of a preliminary and final round (quarterfinals, semifinals and finals). A total of 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams will compete in Tokyo.

Each match is the best three-of-five sets. Sets one to four are played up to 25 points and set five is up to 15 points, with all sets requiring a two-point advantage (unlimited) to win. Volleyball is played in the Rally Point Scoring system where each rally wins a point whether it is for the serving or the receiving team.


A team scores a point when:

  • It successfully grounds the ball on the opponent’s side of the court, within the boundaries
  • A player on the opposing team commits a fault
  • A player on the opposing team receives a penalty

Preliminary Round

There are two pools (A and B) composed of six teams each. Every team will play each of the five other teams in their pool in a single round robin format. The top four teams from each preliminary pool will advance to the quarterfinal round.

Rankings will be determined by the number of matches won. If teams have an equal number of victories, the first tie breaker will be ranking points. At the end of each match during pool play, the following ranking points will be awarded per match to each team:

Match won 3-0 sets or 3-1 3 points
Match won 3-2 2 points
Match lost 2-3 1 point
Match lost 0-3 or 1-3 0 points
Match forfeited 0 points

If at the end of the preliminary round, two or more teams have the same number of match victories and ranking points, the following tiebreakers will be used, in this order:

  1. The number of sets won divided by the number of sets lost in all matches within the group (set ratio).
  2. The number of points scored divided by the number of points during all sets of the pool play matches (point ratio).
  3. The result of matches played between the teams concerned.

When the tie in the points ratio is between three or more teams, a new classification of these teams under terms 1, 2 and 3 will be made taking into consideration only the matches between the teams in question.

In Rio, matches in the preliminary round ranged from 1 hour to 2 hours, 16 minutes long.

Knockout Round


Eight teams will compete in the quarterfinals where the winners of each group will play against the team that finished fourth (A1 vs. B4, A4 vs. B1).

A draw will be made to determine the other quarterfinals (A2 vs. B2 or B3, A3 vs. B3 or B2). The winners of each match will advance to the semifinals.

Quarterfinal matches in Rio ranged from 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 hour, 54 minutes.


  • Winner A1/B4 vs. winner A3/B2 (B3)
  • Winner A2/B3 (B2) vs. winner A4/B1

The shortest semifinal game in Rio was 1 hour, 29 minutes. The longest was 2 hours, 28 minutes.

Medal Matches

The winners of the semifinals will play in the gold medal match. The losers of the semifinals will play in the bronze medal match.

The teams ranked fifth and sixth in each pool will be given final rankings ninth to 12th. The losers of the quarterfinal matches will be ranked fifth to eighth.

The bronze medal match in Rio was 2 hours, 9 minutes. The gold medal match in Rio was 1 hour, 43 minutes.

More information:

Official Tokyo site – Volleyball

USA Volleyball

International federation