Sunday marked the beginning of the FIVB Men’s World Championships and sellout crowds packed both Foro Italico in Rome (11,170) and the Palace of Sport and Culture (5000) in Varna, Bulgaria.
Among those watching were the presidents of Italy and Bulgaria. Italian president Sergio Mattarella was among those in attendance in Rome alongside FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graca, Italian National Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malago and Italian Volleyball Federation President Pietro Bruno Cattaneo. The group was pleased as its homestanding team won 3-0 over Japan behind star Ivan Zaytsev.
In Varna, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev headlined the list of dignitaries. Minister for Sport Krasen Kralev also was in attendance to watch Bulgaria sweep Finland behind a 14 point effort by Valentin Bratoev.
Graca was pleased with the turnout and kickoff to the 2018 Worlds.
“What an incredible night and an amazing start to the Men’s World Championship,” Graca said. “Both our hosts gave their fans something to cheer about long into the night, and I have no doubt we are in for another exhilarating event!”
The events also drew large audiences on television as well. The Italy vs. Japan match had more than 1,722,000 people watching for a 9.6% share, meaning that 9.6% of measured television turned on at the time were watching the match.
World Championships action continues on Wednesday with all four pools competing.