In just a few days’ time, 32 of the world’s top national teams will join the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2021 bubble in Rimini, Italy to showcase electrifying volleyball action for millions of fans worldwide.
VNL 2021: Life in the Bubble
Learn more about how the secure VNL 2021 bubble will work as action set to get underway next week
Published 03:15, 20 May 2021
The women’s and men’s teams are expected to arrive on 21 and 24 May respectively for the flagship competition, with action scheduled to get underway on 25 and 28 May respectively. The 2021 edition is gearing up to be a new experience in comparison to the two previous editions as the entire competition will take place in a secure bubble in Rimini.
The bubble will host just over 1,000 participants, from the team delegations to a streamlined number of officials, staff, TV production crew and service providers, across five hotels that will be used exclusive for the event.
Both women’s and men’s matches will be played across two courts in a staggered match schedule format, totalling four matches per day per court, to ensure that both gender’s event schedules follow a pattern of three competition days followed by three rest days.
There are also several key changes to conventional volleyball match protocol, with team handshakes, the exchange of gifts and switching court sides at the end of sets eliminated to minimise close contact between teams. There will also be no line judges for matches, and the video challenge system will be used instead.
In addition to the two match venues, the secure bubble will house a number of gyms and training courts which will be reserved for participating teams to use according to a pre-approved schedule.
A regular COVID-19 testing schedule will also be implemented for the competition. For example, all participants will need to present a negative PCR test prior to departing for the event. Everyone will also undergo a PCR test upon arrival, along with every four days during their stay and before departing the VNL bubble. In the event that a participant displays COVID-19 symptoms, additional tests shall be performed, as well as close contact tracking and specific medical care outside the bubble if required.
The FIVB has also released the VNL 2021 COVID-19 Volleyball Safety Guidelines and Specific Competition Regulations which have been designed to protect the health and wellbeing of all participants.
The guidelines have been regularly updated in the months leading up to the event in consultation with the local health authorities, the FIVB Medical Commission and participating teams. This has ensured that the guidelines, which remain subject to further change, include the latest best practices and countermeasures to mitigate risk in relation to COVID-19.