LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Friday, July 04 - The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) announced on Friday that nine teams from a possible 12 have confirmed their places in the 2004 edition of the FIVB's premier annual competition for women, the $1 Million World Grand Prix.
Four teams - Cuba, USA, the Dominican Republic and Brazil - sealed their spots in next year's competition in a preliminary tournament currently being held in Mexico and join Japan, China, Korea, Thailand and the hosts of the 2003 and 2004 World Grand Prix, Italy in the tournament.
The 2004 competition schedule will be defined at the World Grand Prix meeting due to be held later this year. The 2003 World Grand Prix will be played in three cities in southern Italy - Gioia del Colle, Matera and Andria - all near Bari, from July 21 to August 3.
"With the 2003 World Grand Prix starting in less than three weeks time it is pleasing to be able to give teams due notice and confirm their participation in next year's event," World Grand Prix project leader Gabrielle van Zwieten said. "This will give teams and the host organizers even more time to prepare for the tournament, further enhancing the Grand Prix as the premier annual competition for women."
The three remaining places for the 2004 World Grand Prix will be filled by teams from Europe and will be decided when the European Confederation hosts a six-team qualifying tournament in Poland at the end of August, 2003.
The success of the World Grand Prix in previous years has seen the number of teams expand from eight to 12.
For the 2003 edition the participants include Italy, the USA, Cuba, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, defending champions Russia, China, Brazil, Canada, Thailand and Korea.
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