Meet the glamorous beach volleyball players competing in the Olympics

Athletes have been flocking into Tokyo’s Olympic Village this week ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday which kicks off the Games.

This summer’s competition has already seen its fair share of controversy, with athletes complaining about their ‘anti-sex’ cardboard beds and a number forced to isolate over Covid-19 fears.

All eyes were on the Team USA beach volleyball team yesterday, who were  photographed training in skimpy sportswear. It came after Norway’s female beach volleyball team refused to wear the traditional bikini uniform in a competition last weekend. 

The Scandinavians wore shorts instead of the bikini required by the International Handball Federation’s (IHF) rules in their bronze medal match against Spain at the European Beach Handball Championship in Bulgaria on Sunday, claiming the revealing bottoms make them feel uncomfortable and unnecessarily sexualised.

In doing so, they risked a fine of 50 euros per player per match according to Norway’s Katinka Haltvik, quoted by public broadcaster NRK. 

The issue has been debated in beach sports circles for several years as some players find the bikini degrading or simply impractical.

But the USA team and other competitors from around the world don’t seem to have an issue with outfits – if their Instagram accounts are anything to go by.

Here FEMAIL takes a look at the glamorous beach volleyball players preparing to take to the sand in Tokyo this weekend.   

Team USA’s women’s beach volleyball team donned bikini bottoms as they hit the court on Monday for a practice session ahead of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo (pictured: Alexandra Klineman)

Norway's beach handball team is facing a fine after the players refused to wear bikini bottoms in a European Championship match, instead competing in non-regulation shorts

Norway’s beach handball team is facing a fine after the players refused to wear bikini bottoms in a European Championship match, instead competing in non-regulation shorts

Czech Republic

Markéta Sluková, 33, and Barbora Hermannova, 30, will be representing the Czech Republic in Tokyo this year.

The pair played together at Brazil 2016 – where they didn’t advance from the group stages after losing to Brazil, Spain and Russia – although they did defeat Argentina.

Sluková will be hoping to repeat the success she found at London 2012, where she advanced to the quarter-finals with previous partner Kristýna Kolocová.

Off the pitch, the stunning pair have more than 40,000 Instagram followers between them – often sharing sporting shots from playing around the world as well as glamorous adventures when they’re not working. 

Clearly the best of friends,  Hermannova recently paid tribute to her team mate on her birthday, writing: ‘Amazing athlete and even greater human being.’

Markéta Sluková, 33, and Barbora Hermannova, 30, will be representing the Czech Republic in Tokyo this year

Markéta Sluková, 33, and Barbora Hermannova, 30, will be representing the Czech Republic in Tokyo this year

Clearly the best of friends, Hermannova recently paid tribute to her team mate on her birthday, writing: 'Amazing athlete and even greater human being.'

Clearly the best of friends, Hermannova recently paid tribute to her team mate on her birthday, writing: ‘Amazing athlete and even greater human being.’

Sluková will be hoping to repeat the success she found at London 2012, where she advanced to the quarter-finals with previous partner Kristýna Kolocová (pictured with Hermannova at the Continental Cup where they progressed to the final)

Sluková will be hoping to repeat the success she found at London 2012, where she advanced to the quarter-finals with previous partner Kristýna Kolocová (pictured with Hermannova at the Continental Cup where they progressed to the final)

The ‘culturally inclusive’ rules for women’s beach volleyball outfits at the Olympics

The rules governing uniforms at the Olympics are a bit different to the International Handball Federation’s (IHF) and allow for players to cover up more should they choose to.

Women’s tops ‘must fit closely to the body and the design must be with deep cutaway armholes on the back, upper chest and stomach (2-piece), respecting the space required for the manufacturer logo, athlete number, country flag/country code, and the place for the athlete’s name.’

For the bottoms, they can wear briefs that should ‘be a close fit and be cut on an upward angle towards the top of the leg’ — or they can also wear a closely-fitting one-piece ‘with open back and upper chest, respecting the space for the required inscriptions to be made.’

However, women may also choose to wear shorts that ‘feature total length of 26-28 cm (from waistband) and 26 cm above the knee, and a waistband of 6-7 cm wide.’

They can also wear a half-sleeve top or knee-length pants, the bottoms of which are ‘ recommended to feature total length of 47 cm (from waistband) and 3 cm above the knee, and a waistband of 6-7 cm wide.’

The rules previously required bikinis only, but were changed to be more culturally inclusive. That year, Egypt’s team played in long-sleeve shirts and pants. 

Brazil

Previous hosts Brazil made it all the way to the final in 2016, where they missed out on a gold medal after Germany’s Ludwig and Walkenhorst beat them 2-0 in the final match.

But Agatha Bednarczuk, 38, will be hoping to go one step further with her new partner Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa, 22.

Newcomer Duda, a right side defender, previously got a gold medal at the 2014 Youth Olympics and is one of the youngest players competing on the beach this year.

One to watch, she’s a six-time world champion in the youth game, and is sure to make a mark in the senior field.

In 2017, the IOC called her the ‘rising stars of beach volleyball’.

Meanwhile, her partner is already a huge star in Brazil with nearly 60,000 Instagram followers. 

Ahead of the games, having travelled to Japan early to adjust to the time difference, she wrote: ‘We’re sleeping well, eating Brazilian food and training a lot.’ 

Agatha Bednarczuk, 38, will be going for gold with her new partner Eduarda 'Duda' Lisboa, 22. They are pictured training in Brazil

Agatha Bednarczuk, 38, will be going for gold with her new partner Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa, 22. They are pictured training in Brazil

Newcomer Duda, right, a right side defender, previously got a Gold medal at the 2014 Youth Olympics and is one of the youngest players competing on the beach this year

Newcomer Duda, right, a right side defender, previously got a Gold medal at the 2014 Youth Olympics and is one of the youngest players competing on the beach this year

Agatha Bednarczuk is already a huge star in Brazil with almost 60,000 Instagram followers, while Duda (pictured) boasts nearly 48,000 of her own

Agatha Bednarczuk is already a huge star in Brazil with almost 60,000 Instagram followers, while Duda (pictured) boasts nearly 48,000 of her own

Argentina

Ana Gallay, 35, and Fernanda Pereyra, 30, are Argentina’s hopefuls this Olympic Games.

Ana, her country’s most accomplished beach volleyball player ever, previously won the gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games with Georgina Klug, and represented Argentina at the 2016 Summer Olympics. 

She also competed at London 2012 with Virginia Zonta, but the pair lost their three pool matches. 

She partnered with blocker Fernanda Pereyra in 2018, with whom she won a silver medal at the 2019 Pan-American Games and a top 10 finish on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour the same year.

Ana Gallay, 35, and Fernanda Pereyra, 30, are Argentina's hopefuls this Olympic Games (pictured in Spain)

Ana Gallay, 35, and Fernanda Pereyra, 30, are Argentina’s hopefuls this Olympic Games (pictured in Spain)

Ana partnered with blocker Fernanda Pereyra in 2018, with whom she won a silver medal at the 2019 Pan-American Games and a top 10 finish on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour the same year (pictured in Tokyo)

Ana partnered with blocker Fernanda Pereyra in 2018, with whom she won a silver medal at the 2019 Pan-American Games and a top 10 finish on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour the same year (pictured in Tokyo)

Netherlands

Representing the Dutch nation are Katja Stam, 22, who stands at a majestic 6ft 2in, and 19-year-old outside hitter Raïsa Schoon.

The pair previously won four World Tour medals each with different partners at 1-star events when they teamed up with each other. 

Raisa is the daughter of two-time beach volleyball Olympian Debora Schoon Kadijk, and already has a FIVB U19 World Championship silver to her name, which she won in 2018.

Representing the Dutch nation are Katja Stam, 22, who stands at a majestic 6ft 2in, and 19-year-old outside hitter Raïsa Schoon, pictured in June at the Continental Cup

Representing the Dutch nation are Katja Stam, 22, who stands at a majestic 6ft 2in, and 19-year-old outside hitter Raïsa Schoon, pictured in June at the Continental Cup

The pair previously won four World Tour medals each with different partners at 1-star events when they teamed up with each other (pictured together in Sochi in May)

The pair previously won four World Tour medals each with different partners at 1-star events when they teamed up with each other (pictured together in Sochi in May)

Canada

Canada hasn’t won a beach volleyball medal since 1996, when the sport made its Olympic debut, but Sarah Pavan, 34, and Melissa Humana-Paredes – who were 2019 world champions and are now ranked second in the world – are hoping to change that.  

Pavan previously competed with Heather Bansley at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but after going undefeated in group play they lost against the top seed in their first knockout match, finishing fifth overall.

Pavan and Humana-Paredes won bronze in Gstaad at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour last month.

Bansley will compete in Tokyo alongside new partner Brandie Wilkerson; no Canadian men qualified.

Canada hasn't won a beach volleyball medal since 1996, when the sport made its Olympic debut, but Sarah Pavan, 34, and Melissa Humana-Paredes - who were 2019 world champions and are now ranked second in the world - are hoping to change that

Canada hasn’t won a beach volleyball medal since 1996, when the sport made its Olympic debut, but Sarah Pavan, 34, and Melissa Humana-Paredes – who were 2019 world champions and are now ranked second in the world – are hoping to change that

Pavan and Humana-Paredes won bronze in Gstaad at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour last month

Pavan and Humana-Paredes won bronze in Gstaad at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour last month

USA  

Alix Klineman, 31, won back-to-back gold medals at the FIVB World Tour events in 2018 and 2019 with her current partner April Ross, 39. The pair are currently fifth in the world.

Ross won a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Jennifer Kessy, and a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics with Kerri Walsh Jennings. Ross and Kessy were also the 2009 Beach Volleyball World Champions. 

Kelly Claes, 25, is also competing for Team USA with Sarah Sponcil, 24. Sponcil and Claes have quickly risen through the ranks, winning two consecutive FIVB World Tour titles in early 2021.

Alix Klineman, 31, won back-to-back gold medals at the FIVB World Tour events in 2018 and 2019 with her current partner April Ross, 39. The pair are currently fifth in the world

Alix Klineman, 31, won back-to-back gold medals at the FIVB World Tour events in 2018 and 2019 with her current partner April Ross, 39. The pair are currently fifth in the world

Ross, pictured with Klineman, won a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Jennifer Kessy, and a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics with Kerri Walsh Jennings

Ross, pictured with Klineman, won a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics with Jennifer Kessy, and a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics with Kerri Walsh Jennings

Alix Klineman and April Ross 'soaking up' the atmosphere in Tokyo ahead of their first game

Alix Klineman and April Ross ‘soaking up’ the atmosphere in Tokyo ahead of their first game

Kelly Claes, 25, is also competing for Team USA with Sarah Sponcil, 24. Sponcil and Claes have quickly risen through the ranks, winning two consecutive FIVB World Tour titles in early 2021

Kelly Claes, 25, is also competing for Team USA with Sarah Sponcil, 24. Sponcil and Claes have quickly risen through the ranks, winning two consecutive FIVB World Tour titles in early 2021

Australia

Mariafe Artacho del Solar, 27, is partnered with Taliqua Clancy, 29, with the pair ranked fifth in the world last year.

Both represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Games, but not with each other; Artacho del Solar failed to win a match with then partner Nicole Laird, while Clancy and Louise Bawden reached the quarter finals.

Clancy, who plays as a left-side blocker, is the first indigenous Australian volleyball player to represent the country at the Olympics. She has the aboriginal flag tattooed on her left wrist. 

Mariafe Artacho del Solar, 27, is partnered with Taliqua Clancy, 29, with the pair ranked fifth in the world last year

Mariafe Artacho del Solar, 27, is partnered with Taliqua Clancy, 29, with the pair ranked fifth in the world last year

Artacho del Solar failed to win a match with then partner Nicole Laird at the Rio Games in 2016

Artacho del Solar failed to win a match with then partner Nicole Laird at the Rio Games in 2016

Clancy, who plays as a left-side blocker, is the first indigenous Australian volleyball player to represent the country at the Olympics. She has the aboriginal flag tattooed on her left wrist

Clancy, who plays as a left-side blocker, is the first indigenous Australian volleyball player to represent the country at the Olympics. She has the aboriginal flag tattooed on her left wrist

woBronze in Xiamen, China and Gold in the Asian Beach Volleyball Championships at Maoming.Artacho del Solar and Clancy

Artacho del Solar and Clancy won gold at the Chetumal, Mexico 4 star towards the end of 2019 (pictured in Tokyo)

Kenya  

Gaudencia Makokha, 28, and partner Brackcides Khadambi, 37, are representing Kenya in the beach volleyball at the Tokyo Games. 

Both make up Kenya women’s national volleyball team, of which Khadambi is captain, along with Yvonne Wavinya and Phosca Kasisi.

Gaudencia Makokha, 28, and partner Brackcides Khadambi, 37, are representing Kenya in the beach volleyball at the Tokyo Games

Gaudencia Makokha, 28, and partner Brackcides Khadambi, 37, are representing Kenya in the beach volleyball at the Tokyo Games

Both make up Kenya women's national volleyball team, of which Khadambi is captain, along with Yvonne Wavinya and Phosca Kasisi (pictured: Makokha)

Both make up Kenya women’s national volleyball team, of which Khadambi is captain, along with Yvonne Wavinya and Phosca Kasisi (pictured: Makokha)

Switzerland

The Swiss team, consisting of partners Nina Betschart, 25, and Tanja Huberli, 28, and Joana Heidrich, 29, and Anouk Verge-Depre, 29, are currently ranked seventh and eighth in the Olympic ranking respectively.

Heidrich, who has 31,000 Instagram followers, finished fifth at the Rio games with previous partner Nadine Zumkehr – their best result at the Games so far.

Hüberli and Betschart have won five FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour medals including at major events in Klagenfurt in 2016 and Porec in 2017.  

Heidrich, who has 31,000 Instagram followers, finished fifth at the Rio games with previous partner Nadine Zumkehr (pictured last week)

Heidrich, who has 31,000 Instagram followers, finished fifth at the Rio games with previous partner Nadine Zumkehr (pictured last week)

Hüberli and Betschart have won five FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour medals including at major events in Klagenfurt in 2016 and Porec in 2017 (pictured in Tokyo)

Hüberli and Betschart have won five FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour medals including at major events in Klagenfurt in 2016 and Porec in 2017 (pictured in Tokyo)

Hüberli and Betschart pictured during the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour last month in Gstaad

Hüberli and Betschart pictured during the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour last month in Gstaad

Joana Heidrich, 29, and Anouk Verge-Depre, 29, pictured during training yesterday, are currently ranked eighth in the Olympic ranking

Joana Heidrich, 29, and Anouk Verge-Depre, 29, pictured during training yesterday, are currently ranked eighth in the Olympic ranking

Germany

Laura Ludwig, 35, is a seasoned pro, having won the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics with former partner Kira Walkenhorst, as well as four European championships.

The defender, who has nearly 50,000 Instagram followers, is paired with Margareta Kozuch for the Tokyo Games.

Karla Borger and Julia Sude also qualified for the games and will compete in Pool A. The pair made headlines earlier this year when they refused to participate in a beach volleyball tournament in Qatar over the tournament’s policy that restricted competitors from wearing bikinis.

‘We are there to do our job, but are being prevented from wearing our work clothes,’ Borger told German radio station Deutschlandfunk. 

‘We play at 30 to 40 degrees in the midday heat and of course we’re used to playing in a bikini. This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job – we are criticising that. We are asking whether it’s necessary to hold a tournament there at all. It is definitely something that has to be questioned.’  

Laura Ludwig, 35, is a seasoned pro, having won the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics with former partner Kira Walkenhorst, as well as four European championships (pictured in Tokyo)

Laura Ludwig, 35, is a seasoned pro, having won the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics with former partner Kira Walkenhorst, as well as four European championships (pictured in Tokyo)

Ludwig, who has nearly 50,000 Instagram followers, is paired with Margareta Kozuch (pictured in South Africa) for the Tokyo Games

Ludwig, who has nearly 50,000 Instagram followers, is paired with Margareta Kozuch (pictured in South Africa) for the Tokyo Games

Karla Borger (pictured) and Julia Sude also qualified for the games and will compete in Pool A. The pair made headlines earlier this year when they refused to participate in a beach volleyball tournament in Qatar over the tournament's policy that restricted competitors from wearing bikinis

Karla Borger and Julia Sude (pictured) also qualified for the games and will compete in Pool A. The pair made headlines earlier this year when they refused to participate in a beach volleyball tournament in Qatar over the tournament's policy that restricted competitors from wearing bikinis

Karla Borger (left) and Julia Sude (right) also qualified for the games and will compete in Pool A. The pair made headlines earlier this year when they refused to participate in a beach volleyball tournament in Qatar over the tournament’s policy that restricted competitors from wearing bikinis

ROC [Russian Olympics Committee)

Nadezda Makroguzova, 24, and her partner Svetlana Kholomina, 23, are two-time silver medalists in the U21 World championship in 2016 and 2017. 

In 2019 the pair won a gold medal at the Espinho four-star stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in Portugal.

And earlier this year the glamorous twosome took the silver medal in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour’s 4-star tournament in Cancún, Mexico.

Svetlana Kholomina (pictured) and Nadezda Makroguzova are two-time silver medalists in the U21 World championship in 2016 and 2017.

Svetlana Kholomina (pictured) and Nadezda Makroguzova are two-time silver medalists in the U21 World championship in 2016 and 2017.

Earlier this year the glamorous twosome took the silver medal in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour's 4-star tournament in Cancún, Mexico (pictured in January)

Earlier this year the glamorous twosome took the silver medal in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour’s 4-star tournament in Cancún, Mexico (pictured in January)

Spain

Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner, 34, has been partnered with New York-born Elsa Baquerizo McMillan, 34, since 2012.

They competed at London 2012 and the 2016 Rio Games, making it through to the last 16.

The pair won silver at the Long Beach, California Grand Slam in 2016. 

Spain's Liliana Fernandez Steiner, 34, has been partnered with New York-born Elsa Baquerizo McMillan, 34, since 2012

Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner, 34, has been partnered with New York-born Elsa Baquerizo McMillan, 34, since 2012

Italy

Marta Menegatti, 30, is representing Italy as a left-side defender with her partner Viktoria Orsi Toth, also 30. 

With former teammate Greta Cicolari, Menegatti achieved a career-high world ranking of number four in August 2012. She’s also won two gold, seven silver and seven bronze medals on the FIVB World Tour.

She and Orsi Toth teamed up in mid-2013 and qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but Orsi Toth was suspended right before the tournament for a doping violation, for which she has maintained her innocence. 

After serving a two-year ban, she returned to international competition in July 2018, resuming her partnership with Menegatti.  

Marta Menegatti, 30, left, is representing Italy as a left-side defender with her partner Viktoria Orsi Toth, also 30, right

Marta Menegatti, 30, left, is representing Italy as a left-side defender with her partner Viktoria Orsi Toth, also 30, right

Menegatti and Orsi Toth teamed up in mid-2013 and qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but Orsi Toth was suspended right before the tournament for a doping violation, for which she has maintained her innocence

Menegatti and Orsi Toth teamed up in mid-2013 and qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but Orsi Toth was suspended right before the tournament for a doping violation, for which she has maintained her innocence

Latvia

Anastasija Kravčenoka, 24, and Tina Graudiņa, 23, are representing Latvia in Tokyo. The pair have been competing together since 2013, winning their first gold medal at the 2016 European U22 Beach Volleyball Championships.

They won gold yet again at the 2019 European Beach Volleyball Championship. Kravčenoka has 15,000 followers on Instagram and also has a YouTube channel where she documents her travels.

Since arriving in Tokyo the pair have been training with the Japanese team.

Anastasija Kravčenoka, 24, and Tina Graudiņa are representing Latvia in Tokyo. The pair have been competing together since 2013

Anastasija Kravčenoka, 24, and Tina Graudiņa are representing Latvia in Tokyo. The pair have been competing together since 2013

Kravčenoka and Graudiņa (pictured) won gold yet again at the 2019 European Beach Volleyball Championship

Kravčenoka and Graudiņa (pictured) won gold yet again at the 2019 European Beach Volleyball Championship

Since arriving in Tokyo the pair have been training with the Japanese team, who gave them little presents - a necklace and a hand fan

Since arriving in Tokyo the pair have been training with the Japanese team, who gave them little presents – a necklace and a hand fan

Japan

Miki Ishii, 31, and Megumi Murakami, 35, will represent the home nation at the Tokyo Olympics.

The pair won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games, but both are the first to participate in the Olympic Games.

Murakami said in a press conference: ‘We are ourselves. Believing in what we have accumulated so far, I think the most important thing is to hold hands, look at each other, and go on. I want to play a match that conveys the fun of Beach Valley.’

Miki Ishii, 31, and Megumi Murakami, 35, will represent the home nation at the Tokyo Olympics

Miki Ishii, 31, and Megumi Murakami, 35, will represent the home nation at the Tokyo Olympics

The pair, pictured in Cancun, Mexico in April, won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games, but both are the first to participate in the Olympic Games

The pair, pictured in Cancun, Mexico in April, won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games, but both are the first to participate in the Olympic Games

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