It was confirmed in the Control Committee meeting on Monday that Tajikistan, drawn in Group A against the host team and Australia, already pulled out from the continental tournament without unreasonable claims, while Uzbekistan still have yet confirmed their participation in the biennial competition.
However, although Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are unlikely not to take part in the nine-day meet, the competition schedule remains unchanged.
A total of 12 teams arrived in Nakhon Ratchasima on Monday, ready for the opening battle on Wednesday. According to the draw, apart from Thailand, Australia and Tajikistan in Group A, Group B comprises China, which have captured the crown for the consecutive 10th time since their first victory in 1987, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Group C consist of Kazakhstan, runners-up in the previous edition in Taicang, China two years ago, Chinese Taipei, debutante Iran and New Zealand, while Japan, Korea, Uzbekistan and Indonesia are in Group D.
The group round-robin preliminaries will start on Wednesday, while either Pongpayome Vasaphuti, president of the Volleyball Association of Thailand, or Nakhon Ratchasima Governor Somboon Ngarmluk is expected to preside over the opening ceremony at 2.30pm.
Thailand will take on Australia in the curtain-raiser, while Vietnam play Sri Lanka, New Zealand meet Chinese Taipei, Korea face Indonesia, Japan take on Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan play Iran. Only top three teams from each group advance to the next round.
The Asian meet has been regarded as qualifications for the 2007 World Cup, the Olympic Qualification Tournament and the next year's World Grand Prix.
Top three teams (except China and Japan) will be eligible for the Japan-hosted World Olympic Qualification Tournament next May. The best team from the tournament (also except China and Japan) will make the cut for the Japan-hosted World Cup in November, while the second best ranking team will also stand a chance to qualify according to their world rankings compared with those finishing second in the other continents.
Last, the top two teams from the Asian meet (except China and Japan) will have a chance of testing their mettle in the next year's World Grand Prix, the women's premier volleyball competition.
Rankings to determine the teams for the above-mentioned three qualifications will be made among six teams, while the results of matches with China and Japan would not be counted.
Photos credited to FIVB.org.
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