2006 Volleyball World Championships
All eyes on Rome for historic day
Rome, Italy, July 16, 2004 – Unprecedented number of teams witness momentous day.

All eyes of a record number of 174 teams - 97 men's and 77 women's teams - participating in the 2006 Volleyball World Championships, were focused on Rome, Italy on Friday when the Drawing of Lots ceremony for the International Volleyball Federation’s most prestigious event, took place in the inspirational setting of the beautiful Giardino d'Inverno room in the Westin Excelsior Hotel.

The ceremony, which coincides with the opening day of the 2004 World League Finals in Rome, involved a record 101 countries with the popular African country Eritrea being the 101st registered, making the 2006 World Championships the biggest ever contested in FIVB history.

“This historical world record participation of 174 teams is a breathtaking demonstration of the tremendous achievement of our sport worldwide,” FIVB President Dr Rubén Acosta said when he officially opened the event. "We thank the organizer for their excellent preparation and conduction of the ceremony and the Italian Volleyball Federation and the FIVB.”

The Drawing of Lots confirmed the distribution of teams within each Confederation for the opening rounds of the 2006 World Championships, which will determine who progresses to the final round of 24 teams each for men and women for a total of 48 teams in Japan.
Pic: FIVB President Dr. Rubén  Acosta closing the Drawing of Lots ceremony
A total of 21 tournaments spread across five continents will be held to find the 22 women’s teams to proceed to the Final Round in Japan with the men’s draw containing 31 tournaments.

The first, second and third rounds for both men and women will be completed by the end of August, 2005 from where the draw for the Final Round in Japan will take place within the following two months.

As hosts, the Japan men's and women's teams have already qualified for the final 24 along with the defending 2002 world champions; The Brazilian men's and the Italian women's teams.
Pic: Dr Acosta (r) shakes hands with Italian Volleyball Federation President Mr. Carlo Magri. TBS Vice President Mr. Kiyoshi Wakabayashi is behind
Being staged every four years, the World Championships, which first started in Prague 1949 for men and in Moscow in 1952 for women, are the FIVB's most important Volleyball competition as they incorporate a first round followed by a second round series of tournaments in a process that climaxes with a grand finale of the best 24 teams in each gender. The last World Championships were held in 2002 in Germany for women and in Argentina for men.