Lausanne, Switzerland, August 13, 2007
The PAF Open will “officially” start Tuesday (August 14) and concludes Saturday (August 18) for women and Sunday (August 19) for men with the winning teams in each gender sharing the $32,000 first-place prizes. The 14th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour stop in 2007 for both men and women, the PAF Open will be played in the city centre of Mariehamn.
An archipelago in the Baltic Sea with more than 25,000 permanent residents, Åland is situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia and attracts more than two-million visitors annually. The area also features the most sunshine hours in the entire Nordic region.
For the first-time on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, two national Volleyball federations (Finland and Sweden) have joined forces to stage the PAF Open. Finland will also hosts its first "open" international event after staging FIVB satellite stops in 2005 for men and 2006 for women in Turku where the Latvian teams of Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Martins Plavins and Inese Jursone/Inguna Minusa captured the gold medals.
A total of 86 men’s and 66 women’s teams from 36 countries have entered the PAF Open, including Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Venezuela.
The 11th of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the PAF Open is also part of the qualifying process for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. With the qualifying concluding July 20, 2008 to determine the 24 teams per gender for the Summer Games, a team’s best eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour or sanctioned continental championships will count during the process.
Following this week’s PAF Open, the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour takes a week off before ending its European schedule with a double gender stop St. Petersburg followed by a men’s only event in Mazury region of Poland. The final double gender event will be staged at the end of September in Brazil with single gender stops during the first week of November in Bali (men) and Thailand (women) ending the 2007 season.
This week’s international schedule also features the first event in the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground where the competition for the Beijing 2008 Olympics will be held as the FIVB sanctions a $50,000 Challenger stop to serve as a “test” even for next August’s Summer Games in the Chinese capital.
Twenty-four women's teams will compete in the fifth of six Challenge/Satellite events on the 2007 FIVB calendar following the same Olympic format for the Olympic Beach Volleyball competition to be held August 9-22, 2008. The "Good Luck Beijing" 2007 FIVB Beach Volleyball Women's Challenger will “test” all aspects of the competition, including the 24-team format, results, venue, cheerleaders’ program and the 17,000 tons of fine sand imported from Hainan for the main and two side courts.
photos Janos Schmidt