Tokyo, October 2, 2007 - World and Olympic champions Brazil will open their defence of the men's World Cup against the United States, following the official World Cup draw in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The 12 teams for the women's and men's events will play a round-robin competition over four phases, with two venues in operation on each day. The top three teams will qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Brazil, who won the 2003 World Cup before going on to take gold in the Athens Olympics, will start their campaign at Site B. They will open at Matsumoto against NORCECA champions USA on November 18 before meeting European kings Spain the next day and African champs Egypt on November 20.
After a travel day, Brazil will continue against Puerto Rico at Toyama on November 22 and against 2006 World Championship bronze medallists Bulgaria on November 23. This completes the first two phases.
The women's event, from November 2-16, will be missing Olympic champions and World Cup holders China as they have qualified automatically for the next Olympics as host nation, as well as world champions Russia, who failed to qualify from the European Championship.
In the absence of these two giants, recently-crowned European champions Italy and South American champions Brazil will be favourites to grab two of the three tickets to Beijing. Cuba and the USA will also fancy their chances.
Italy will open at Site A, Tokyo, against Thailand on November 2, while Brazil will start at Site B, Hamamatsu, against wild card Poland. Brazil will be guaranteed big support, as Hamamatsu in Shizuoka prefecture is home for a large Brazilian community.
The Japanese women, who won the Asian Championship in September for the first time in 24 years, will open against wild card Dominican Republic on November 2 and follow up with Korea and 2006 World Championship bronze medallists Serbia on November 4.
At a press conference following the draw, the head coach of Japan's women's team, Shoichi Yanagimoto, said: "There are many strong teams who have qualified for the World Cup, so it is going to be very hard for Japan in this competition.
"But our ultimate aim is to get a ticket in advance for the Olympic Games. The Asian Championship was a good tournament to prepare for the World Cup and the team is very united."
Japan's men will open against Tunisia at Saitama Super Arena on November 18, and also play Korea and Asian champions Australia in the first phase.
Head coach Tatsuya Ueta said he had been building towards qualifying for the Beijing Olympics since 2005, and the World Cup was the next step in the process.
"We are training very hard at the moment, especially in weight training and physical condition," he said. "The team is very fit and we will fight to the end to achieve our goals."
The draw was conducted by Takako Shirai, Olympic gold medallist in Montreal 1976, and by Kenji Shimaoka, an Olympic champion in Munich in 1972, and supervised by FIVB Executive First Vice President Wei Jizhong. JVA President Masao Tachiki welcomed the guests to the function.