London, Great Britain, August 1, 2012 – The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has expressed its great appreciation and admiration at the level of support and attendence by the British public at both the beach volleyball and volleyball at Horse Guards Prade and Earls Court respectively.
Neither beach volleyball or volleyball are traditional sports in Great Britain but have generated an immense following on the opening four days of competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“The FIVB thanks the Great Britain spectators who have come to the FIVB competitions during the first few days to applaud our international players even though volleyball and beach volleyball are new for them,” FIVB President Jizhong Wei said. “LOCOG and the British public are very much inspiring a generation.”
The 15,000 capacity Earls Court has been regularly packed since the event got started on Saturday with the first round of play in the women’s competition. The average of 12,600 spectators per match for a total of 226,800 over the first three days of volleyball action represents an increase of 4,000 from the average in Beijing, and dissipates all concerns people had before the Games considering that the sport is seen as unpopular in the United Kingdom. It is not just about statistical data but also about the ambiance that the fans are creating - the real icing on the cake for the players that are fighting for Olympic glory here in London. Some VIPs have showed up as well, including basketball star Kobe Bryant and Russia Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
“It’s amazing. Volleyball is not a real British sport but Earls Court is always packed. It’s really beautiful to play here. I’m just wondering if they're all volleyball fans or they were just curious and they’re getting in love with our sport. When I saw the attendance on the first day I started even to ask myself if they were here for free,” 39-year-old Samuele Papi, a volleyball legend in Italy, said.
“I didn’t expect all these spectators. I have asked about the prices for the tickets and they were absolutely not cheap. This confirms the significance of the event and the unique flavor of the Olympics,” added teammate Emanuele Birarelli. “In my volleyball career I have played some important matches without the attendance that was somehow demanded by the significance of these games. Here, in the field of play, you can feel the difference made by the ambiance.”
Argentinean setter Luciano De Cecco was also excited about the atmosphere at Earls Court: “It’s just weird. We were not ready for all this adrenalin that so many spectators are giving us. There are several sports out there at the Olympic Park which are having a good response, but volleyball is really doing something special here in London.”
Meanwhile, the beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade has been equally popular with an average 10,800 fans filling the 12,500 seats available to the public. With the likes of the Prince of Monaco, Sir Paul McCartney and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in attendance, beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade is arguably the hottest ticket in London.
“It is huge,” Spain’s Pablo Herrera said. “Against USA all the stadium was cheering for us. You only get that sort of thing at the Olympics.”
“While we’ve played in venues as large as this, it feels very intimate; some of the other venues feel large and feel far away from the spectators,” USA’s double Olympic champion Misty May-Treanor said.
“They should be so proud and I feel really blessed to be allowed in this venue because obviously we are surrounded by such history," May Treanor’s partner Kerri Walsh added.
Earls Court - Capacity: 15,000
Average Attendance 12,600
Beijing average 8617
Horse Guards Parade - Capacity: 15,000. Ticketed seats only: 12,500
Average Attendance 10,849
Beijing average: 9,087
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