At London 2012, both the men’s and women’s Beach Volleyball events begin with a preliminary phase: the 24 teams in each event are divided into six pools of four, and each team plays every other team in their pool.
A total of 16 teams from this phase qualify for the knockout phase – the top two teams from each pool and the best two third-ranked teams advance automatically. The four remaining third-ranked teams play a two-match lucky loser round; the two winning teams in the lucky loser round also qualify for the elimination phase. The winners of the semi-finals eventually go head-to-head for the gold.
All matches are the best of three sets, with 21 points needed to win a set (15 in the third and deciding set).
For a complete set of rules, please refer to the website of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), the governing body for the sport.
Find out more about the Men's Beach Volleyball and Women's Beach Volleyball competitions at the Olympic Games on the International Olympic Committee website.