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Zaytsev remains upbeat despite Tokyo 2020 postponement

Zaytsev showed his class in Olympic qualifying by scoring 41 points
Rome, Italy, April 13, 2020 – Ivan Zaytsev is staying positive despite missing out on the chance to go after a third Olympic medal this summer due to the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to 2021 following the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

The Italian captain has won bronze at London 2012, silver at Rio de Janeiro 2016, and at 31 years of age Tokyo 2020 could be the last chance for him to add another Olympic medal to his collection. 

There will be no repeat of the Rio 2016 gold medal match in the pool stage, however, after Italy and Brazil were drawn in separate groups. 

Italy have been drawn in Pool A with hosts Japan, 2014 and 2018 world champions Poland, Canada, reigning Asian champions Iran, and Venezuela. 

Brazil head Pool B and will face 2018 and 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League winners Russia, Rio de Janeiro 2016 bronze medallists USA, France, Argentina and Tunisia. 

With four teams per pool progressing there is the chance that Italy could face Brazil in a rematch of a clash that the Olympic hosts dominated to win 3-0 (25-22, 28-26, 26-24).

“Even now I can’t stand watching those images,” Zaytsev told Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

“We didn’t play well, just like the semifinal of the 2015 European Championship against Slovenia in Sofia. But you can’t live in the past, you need to think and look to the future.”

Zaytsev scored 41 points as Italy qualified for Tokyo 2020 by winning Pool C of the Tokyo Volleyball Qualification tournament that they hosted in Bari.

Like everyone in Italy the Spoleto-born star is following the lockdown rules that the Italian government has imposed and is at home with his wife and three children where he has been working hard to maintain his fitness. 

The Italian league has been annulled with his team Modena in second place, a point behind Lube Civitanova. It means that Zaytsev and his Italian teammates could now face a summer with no matches for the national team.

“We often complain about the lack of rest in an overfilled calendar,” he said. “This year it can be the summer when the joints are given a breather after years of stress. Considering that this year has become the pre-Olympic year, I don’t think it will be a bad thing.

“The kids are fine, and we have found a good rhythm. The important thing is to stay together and share everything with them.”

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