With three FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour events in Asia already cancelled because of coronavirus, the upcoming 3 Star tournament on the Gold Coast has assumed added importance as athletes seek points to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Athletes can qualify for the Olympics in several ways including World Championship results, host country allocation, Continental Cup, and accumulated points through FIVB tournaments.
World Tour events are rated from one to five stars, with the higher star-rated events having more points on offer.
Therefore, the cancellations and the likelihood of continued disruptions of events in Asia severely disadvantage volleyballers from Asia and Oceania seeking to gain points to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
This is in contrast to European athletes who remain relatively unaffected, and now have a hugely unfair advantage.
The FIVB 3 Star tournament on the iconic Coolangatta Beach from 13 to 22 March, has the potential to be the only event of status in beach volleyball between now and the completion of the qualification window on 14 June.
The event, which was effectively saved following significant financial backing from the Queensland Government, will feature a star-studded line-up with a number of the world’s top players.
World bronze medallists, Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, will be one of the star attractions in the women’s draw alongside triple Olympic gold medallist, Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Meanwhile in the men’s competition the reigning Asian Champions, Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann, return to the beach where they won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Also, the men’s competition includes the 2008 Olympic gold medallist, Phil Dalhauser.