Water Polo at the 2024 Olympics Preview

Competition starts on July 27th, 2024 and runs through August 11th. Group play will take place at the Paris Aquatic Centre followed by playoffs and the championship games at Paris La Défense Arena.

The tournament will be comprised of 22 teams, twelve in the men’s division and ten in the women’s division. Teams that earned qualification include those from events like the 2024 World Aquatics Championships, the 2023 Pan American Games, and the 2024 European Championships.

What’s covered in this article:

  • Participating Teams
  • Build Your Bracket
  • Tournament Format
  • Men’s Schedule
  • Women’s Schedule
  • Venue
  • Favorites
  • How to Watch

Which teams are participating in the water polo tournament at the 2024 Summer Olympics?

🤽‍♂️ Men’s Division🤽‍♀️ Women’s Division
🇭🇷 Croatia🇭🇺 Hungary
🇮🇹 Italy🇦🇺 Australia
🇷🇴 Romania🇨🇦 Canada
🇬🇷 Greece🇨🇳 China
🇺🇸 United States🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇲🇪 Montenegro🇫🇷 France
🇦🇺 Australia🇬🇷 Greece
🇷🇸 Serbia🇮🇹 Italy
🇫🇷 France🇺🇸 United States
🇭🇺 Hungary🇪🇸 Spain
🇯🇵 Japan
🇪🇸 Spain

Build Your Water Polo Bracket

Pick the game winners, submit your bracket, and enter for a chance to win a €500 coupon on wearwaterpolo.com. Shoutout to Liam Frank for creating the bracket system. Total Water Polo ran with the idea after Liam shared the bracket builder on a reddit post.

Here’s how it works. You’ll make a copy of a Google Sheet, pick the winners of the group play games, and then pick the winners of the bracket stage. The sheet is automated and will be updated with real-time results by Total Water Polo.

What is the tournament format?

Preliminary Round

Each team will play against the other members of their group in the preliminary rounds. The top 4 teams from each of the two groups will advance to the quarter-finals, meaning 8 of the 12 teams will continue playing in the men’s division, and 8 of the 12 will advance from the women’s side.

Since there are no ties in international water polo, the top 4 teams in each group are essentially determined by points and goal differential. A team earns 2 points for a win and 0 points for a loss. Ties in rankings are effectively decided by the outcome of the matchup.

Knockout Stage

Four games will be played in the quarter-finals round, with the four winners advancing to the semi-finals. From there, the two winners will play for gold, and the two losers will compete for bronze.

Men’s Knockout Stage Format | Source: Wikipedia

What is the men’s water polo schedule at the Olympics?

The men’s games will start on Sunday, July 28th, 2024. Group play matches will take place every other day. The top 8 teams will advance to the quarter finals round on Wednesday, August 7th. The 4 winning teams will move on to the semi finals on Friday, August 9th. The final day of the tournament, Sunday, August 11th, will feature two matches, one for the gold medal and another for the bronze.

Sun. 7/28Group Play
Tue. 7/30Group Play
Thu. 8/1Group Play
Sat. 8/3Group Play
Mon. 8/5Group Play
Wed. 8/7Quarter Finals
Fri. 8/9Semi Finals
Sun. 8/11🥉 Bronze and 🥇 Gold Matches

What is the women’s water polo schedule at the Olympics?

The women’s games will start on Saturday, July 27th, 2024. Group play matches will take place every other day. The top 8 teams will advance to the quarter finals round on Tuesday, August 6th. The 4 winning teams will move on to the semi finals on Thursday, August 9th. Saturday, August 11th, will feature two matches, one for the gold medal and another for the bronze.

Sat. 7/27Group Play
Mon. 7/29Group Play
Wed. 7/31Group Play
Fri. 8/2Group Play
Sun. 8/4Group Play
Tue. 8/6Quarter Finals
Thu. 8/8Semi Finals
Sat. 8/10🥉 Bronze and 🥇 Gold Matches

Where are the matches being played?

The majority of the preliminary games will be played at the Olympic Aquatics Center in Saint-Denis, France. The final matches, along with a few preliminary matches, will be hosted at the main aquatic venue inside Paris La Defense Arena.

Which water polo teams are favorites to win?

Men’s Division

Despite finishing in third place at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships, Spain actually defeated the would-be champion Croatia in the early stages of group play, 10-6. Earning their Olympic bid by placing first at the 2023 European World Championships, Spain has been a dominant team at recent tournaments, consistently finishing in top positions.

Keep an eye out for two of their top players, Felipe Perrone and Álvaro Granados, as they aim to lead Spain to the finals.

Embed from Getty Images

Other contenders include Croatia, the recent 2024 World Aquatics Championships winner, and runner-up Italy. With more Olympic water polo medals than any other country, Hungary is always a force to be reckoned with at big tournaments. Lastly, watch out for Serbia, Greece, and France to deliver strong performances. All three teams lost close matches at the recent World Championships, indicating their potential to excel on the Olympic stage.

Women’s Division

Eight-time world champion, Team USA, enters the 2024 Olympics as the clear favorite. The United States has clinched gold in the last three Olympic water polo tournaments, and they show no signs of slowing down.

Keep an eye on goalie Ashleigh Johnson, known for making clutch saves, while leading scorers Maddie Musselman and Maggie Steffens drive the offense.

Embed from Getty Images

Team USA will face tough opponents throughout the tournament, as Hungary and Spain recently played tight games against them at the 2024 World Championships. Other contenders include Greece, the Netherlands, and Australia—all of which had very close matches against the championship contenders at the recent world championship tournament.

How to watch water polo at the Olympics

Where will water polo be streamed? Olympic water polo coverage will be available to stream on Peacock.

Live results can be found at Total Water Polo.

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