Austria’s capital Vienna is ready to host the latest stop on the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Beach World Tour with a five-star event set to begin tomorrow.
The event is part of the Beach Volleyball Major Series and will be held on the Danube Island for the third year running.
It is the fifth of five straight weeks of elite competitions that started in Germany with the FIVB Beach World Championships in Hamburg.
Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, who triumphed together in Hamburg, both spoke at today’s media conference at the reception area behind the 10,000-seat centre court where the women's main draw begins tomorrow and the men's on Thursday (August 1).
They were joined by one half of the men’s World Championship-winning side Oleg Stoyanovskiy, whose Russian partner Viacheslav Krasilnikov did not attend due to another commitment.
"It is an honour for me to represent our team here today," Stoyanovskiy said after the hour-long session.
"This is all new for us (attending a media conference outside Russia).
“We need to learn how to handle this added attention that we are receiving as world champions."
Also in attendance were Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sørum, who have won six FIVB Beach World Tour gold medals this season and nine titles in the past 13 months.
They are the defending champions in Vienna after defeating Poland's Michał Bryl and Grzegorz Fijałek in last year's men's final.
Barbora Hermannová and Markéta Sluková from nearby Czech Republic captured the women's crown in 2018 with a win over Brazil's Fernanda Alves and Bárbara Seixas.
All four finalists are in the 2019 event along with last year's bronze medallists – Cherif Younousse Samba and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar and Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands.
The women's finals are due to be played on Saturday (August 3), while the men's podium-placing contests are scheduled for Sunday (August 4).
In addition to the $40,000 (£33,000/€39,000) first-place prizes, the gold medallists will collect 1,200 Olympic qualifying points for Tokyo 2020.
On Sunday (July 28), top seeds Mol and Sørum claimed the men's title at the Tokyo Open as Brazil's Ágatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa battled to the women's prize.
The four-star FIVB Beach World Tour tournament in the Japanese capital was doubling as a beach volleyball test event for next year's Olympics and both winning pairs laid down a marker to their rivals at Shiokaze Park.