Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 7, 2016 – United States Secretary of State John Kerry was one of many special guests to take in the wonderful atmosphere at the volleyball venues - Copacabana Beach and Maracanazinho - at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Saturday, with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also taking time out of his schedule to catch the action and Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone dropping by the Volleyball House on Saturday.
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In a spectacular start to the beach volleyball and volleyball at Rio 2016, Mr Kerry joined the passionate crowd for the opening fixture on Copacabana Beach in which Italy’s Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula took on Austria’s Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst and then watched reigning FIVB Beach Volleyball world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt start with a win, much to the delight of their Brazilian compatriots.
Once those matches were over he met up with the four US teams – Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat, Jacob Gibb and Casey Patterson and Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena – to chat about how they are enjoying the Rio experience and also to take part in their training session.
Tickets for volleyball and beach volleyball at Rio 2016 have been among the most sought after and, with unparalleled levels of innovation and fan engagement, the sport is set to be the signature event of the Rio Games as it returns to its spiritual home.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was also on hand to cheer his countrymen on to a 2-0 (21-14, 21-13) victory over the Austrians while Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also experienced the atmosphere on Copacabana on a hot day by the Atlantic Ocean. Later in the day, he watched the Italian women's volleyball team go down to Serbia at Maracanazinho.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had also earlier visited the venue, speaking to Marleen van Iersel and Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands after one of their practices.
It was a hugely successful opening day for both disciplines, with an average of 6,000 attending volleyball matches and crowds flocking to Copacabana for the beach volleyball tournament.
Meanwhile, Bernie Ecclestone dropped into the Volleyball House just a few hundred metres from the beach volleyball venue along with a host of former volleyball and beach volleyball stars.
The FIVB is committed to leaving a lasting legacy away from the competition courts as well as on them. The FIVB has set up the showcase courts across three sites in the city and will look to harness the passion and enthusiasm for volleyball shown everyday by Cariocas to help inspire the rest of the world to follow volleyball and participate in the sport.
US legend Randy Stoklos, London 2012 Olympic Games beach volleyball champion Julius Brink, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 Olympic volleyball champion Mauricio Lima and Sydney 2000 Olympic volleyball champion Vladimir Grbic officially opened the CopaCourts on Saturday. They also helped run clinics and met with fans, reinforcing the FIVB’s commitment to making volleyball the number one family sport entertainment at the Rio 2016.
Quite the audience volleyball and beach volleyball stars are creating!