SAO PAULO — The trophies for the men's and women's volleyball world championships have been stolen in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian officials said Friday.
The Brazilian volleyball confederation said the two trophies were stolen after being used in a promotional event on Copacabana Beach where they were on display to fans.
Officials said TNT Express was looking after the trophies, transporting them from Sao Paulo to Rio, and that they were taken from a truck making a delivery at a shopping mall.
No other details about the alleged theft were immediately released.
The trophies were to have been returned to the FIVB in Switzerland ahead of their presentation to the winners of the men's championship, played from Aug. 30-Sept. 21 in Poland, and the women's tournament, from Sept. 23-Oct. 12 in Italy.
It was not the first time an important trophy was stolen in the Brazilian city which will host the 2016 Olympics. In 1983, football's World Cup trophy also vanished, and authorities at the time believed thieves melted it to sell the gold.
Officials said the volleyball trophies have no commercial value and urged those responsible for stealing the trophies to return them as soon as possible.
"Contrary to the World Cup trophy, which is worth a lot because it is made of gold, the volleyball trophies don't have any market value. No one will profit from their sale," Brazilian confederation superintendent Neuri Barbieri said.
Brazil is a volleyball powerhouse, with the women's team winning gold at the past two Olympics and finishing runner-up at the past two world championships. The men's team has won the past three world championships and reached three-straight Olympic finals, winning the gold in 2004 in Athens and finishing runners-up in 2008 and 2012.
"Volleyball is an example in Brazil," Barbieri said. "Returning the trophies would represent a demonstration of love to Brazilian volleyball."
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