According to Wikipedia, World Grand Prix was created in 1993 as part of the FIVB’s marketing strategy to promote the sport of volleyball by establishing annual international competitions. It was modelled after the World League, a successful event for men that had been introduced three years before.
The Grand Prix made women’s volleyball very popular in East Asia; the lack of interest on the part of the audience is nevertheless still significant throughout the world. Today (2004), the competition is maintained mainly with the support of Asian investors.
The budget for prize money has been growing steadily since 1993, but at a rather slow pace. The figures have reached $1.295 million dollars in 2004 – meager when compared to the World League’s $13 million.
The predominance of Asian sponsors determined the first major break with the World League’s formula. Most of the cities that host preliminary round matches are located in Asia. A host country may or may not have a national volleyball team involved in the competition. A second break was introduced in recent years: in some continents, teams must qualify to participate in the competition.
The 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix is a women’s volleyball tournament that will be played by 20 countries starting August 2, 2013.
They are the following:
7. PUERTO RICO
10. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
17. CZECH REPUBLIC
The history of Grand Prix’s previous winners is a clear indication of how women’s volleyball has been dominated, since the early 1990s, by four teams: Cuba, Brazil, Russia and China. Along with two-time winner USA, they are the only ones to hold a title at this competition as of 2005.
In 1993, the Cubans padded their already impressive record of a gold medal in the 1992 Olympic Games by winning the first edition of the Grand Prix. They were also running for the gold in 1994, but were defeated by an underranked Brazil: at that time, the Brazilians had never been able to catch a single medal in any major women’s volleyball competition.
In the following years, Brazil proved beyond any doubt that its time as underdog was over. It lost the finals in 1995 to USA, but came back in 1996 for a second Grand Prix title, winning all the matches that made up the Final Four round in five sets.
The Brazilians withdrew from the competition in 1997, and the winner was Russia. But they were back in 1998 for another gold. Russia took revenge in 1999, and defeated Brazil in straight sets to win their second Grand Prix title.
Russia’s win in 2002 made them, like Brazil, three-time winners. But the South Americans untied the score by conquering the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 editions of the tournament. The winners in 2000, 2001 and 2003 were Cuba, USA and China, respectively. Netherlands won their first trophy in 2007. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 USA won three consecutive gold medals.