PRESS RELEASE 04.09.2003


Cuba run risk of missing U20 Women's World Championship

September 4, 2003 - The FIVB Women's U20 World Volleyball Championship in Thailand is all set for a fantastic showdown with all the participating teams, except former two-time World Champions Cuba, arriving in town on Thursday, ready to strut their stuff in the nine-day spectacle.

Shanrit Wongprasert, foreign affairs chairman of the Thailand Volleyball Association, reveiled that the Cuban team missed their flight to Thailand due to a mishap with one of their officials who held all the travel documents.

"It is possible that Cuba could not arrive in Suphan Buri in time before the start of the preliminaries on Saturday," Wongpraset said. "Still, they have a slim chance to arrive in time.

"The organisers have expressed their grave concerns on the problem because if Cuba could not participate in the world meet, we will have to reschedule everything."

A decision from the organising committee on Cuba's attendance will be made before the start of the tournament.

Meanwhile, the opening ceremony will take place on Saturday at the 4,000-seater Silapa-archa Gymnasium, followed by the curtain-raiser between Venezuela and the Netherlands. At the same time Ukraine will take on China at the 2,000-seater Chaopha Hall, just a 10-minute walk from the first competition venue.

The 16 participating teams comprise African champions Algeria, Venezuela, the Netherlands and hosts Thailand in Group A, while Group B consists of North American champions Puerto Rico, Belarus, Russia and South Korea. Ukraine, Germany, Taiwan and Asian champions China are in Group C, with European winners Poland, reigning World Champions Brazil, Cuba and Turkey in Group D.

The group round-robin preliminaries will be held from September 6 to 8, with teams finishing fourth in each group initially bowing out from the competition.

Brazil arrived in Thailand as serious contenders to win another world crown due to the fact that they have retained the nucleus of the side which won the silver medal at the 2001 World Girls' Youth Under-18 Championship in Croatia and have gained valuable experience in the Pan American Games.

Regarding the Chinese squad, nine out of their 12 players participated in the last year's Asian Championship in Vietnam where they captured the title by powering past Thailand in the showdown. China's successful title defence at the World Girls' Youth Under-18 Championship in Poland last month illustrates the amazing talent coming through the age groups in China. It seems that the main task of this team is to foster young and talented players targeting the 2008 Olympic Games on their home soil.