Ary Graça, President of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), has assured insidethegames that his sport, which he accused earlier this year of being “too far from the Olympic Movement”, is now enjoying better relations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) than ever before.
As he sat in an executive box within Warsaw’s Stadion Narodowy last weekend an hour before the start of the Opening Ceremony for this year’s Volleyball Men’s World Championship, the effervescent 71-year-old Brazilian described how his sport has forged a new, closer relationship with the IOC – albeit that volleyball has been on the Olympic programme since 1964, and has been joined by beach volleyball since 1996.
Earlier this year, he announced that the FIVB, in the course of the last 20 years, had been “too far from the Olympic Movement”.
“This was not correct,” he added.
“We need to be part of the family, contributing but most of all learning as they are more experienced than us.”
In Warsaw, however, he explained: “We have to be able to work effectively within the Olympic Movement, because we stayed out of the Olympic Movement for 25 years.
“But the relationship is very good now.
“I am honoured to be one of the experts called to join the International Olympic Committee’s Sport For All Commission, which is chaired by Sam Ramsamy.
“I met recently with the President, Thomas Bach, and he was pleased to hear of all the developments within our sport.”
The World Championship currently underway in Poland has been described by Graça as a “launchpad” for the sport towards the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Graça took up his current position in September 2012, becoming the fourth President in the Federation’s history following Paul Libaud of France (1947-1984), Rubén Acosta of Mexico (1984-2008) and Jizhong Wei of China (2008-2012).
Since that triumphant moment at the FIVB Congress in the United States, Graça – a former player who has most recently served as President of the Brazil Volleyball Federation – has attempted to revolutionise the sport after what he sees as a long period in which it has pursued some misguided strategies.
Apart from his new relationship with the IOC, other strands of the Graça strategy involve re-casting the scale of entertainment for spectators at volleyball events, reducing the time taken to finish matches in order to fit in better with television scheduling, and using all available technology to enhance the experience of those watching the sport, which includes a potentially revolutionary net in which interwoven LED lights offer the possibility of changing it when required into a screen on which to show information or advertisements.
This article first appeared in Inside the Games and has been reproduced with permission. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.