With just 100 days remaining until the beginning of the Paris 2024 Paralympics, anticipation is building for this monumental event. The Paralympic Games is set to take place from 28th August to 8th September in Paris. France will bring together thousands of athletes from around the world to compete in a variety of sports, showcasing incredible skill, determination and athleticism. Mr Janos Tardos, IBSA Judo chairman, explained the tasks at hand between now and the big day.

“The qualifying period is now officially over. The Paralympic ranking will be updated and we will have a clear view of the list of athletes who have qualified directly. There are also the host country slots, which the French team will now have to finalise.

However, there are rules regarding the host country slots, as individuals outside the direct qualifying zone must have competed at the 2022 World Championships to be considered. France has only 11 weight categories where they can and will use the host country slots, which means that in those weight categories where there are no French judoka competing, additional wild cards will be allocated to someone else within those weight divisions.

Besides the bipartite slots, we also have a total of 30 gender free slots. Now, this is really interesting because there are weight categories, for example J1 -73kg and J2 -73kg, where we have more than 50 judoka on the world ranking list in each and they have a total of 13 judoka who can be selected to compete in Paris. Meanwhile, in some of the women's heavier weights, we have a maximum of 12-15 judoka on the world ranking list, therefore we only allow 8-9 judoka to compete at the Paralympics. So, the gender free slots are about supporting the number of Para judoka to be fair and in line with the number of judoka on the world ranking. We think it is a fair system.

Of course, in an ideal world, we would like to increase the number of female participants and while we are focusing on Paris, we are already working in the background to achieve our goals for the coming years, such as increasing the number of women participating.

I am looking forward to the Paris Games. Japan was a dream, the home of judo and having the event at the Budokan was a fantastic experience but I am equally excited about Paris because both the French and Japanese teams are among the greatest nations in judo. The French people love judo and Paris is an amazing city. On top of that, the judo event will take place at the foot of the Eiffel Tower; what more could you ask for?

Finally, the IPC has decided to accommodate all ITOs (International Technical Officials) in the Paralympic Village. I am very happy about this as I had this experience when I was a referee. Living in the Paralympic Village is really immersive and allows you to soak up the Paralympic Movement and get involved with all the sports. When the officials are housed in different hotels, the Games becomes like any other judo event but in Paris the team will be able to live through this amazing experience as one. I am very happy about that; it is the icing on the cake.”

The countdown to the Paris 2024 Paralympics marks a period of intense preparation and growing excitement. Athletes are finalising their training regimens, organisers are putting the finishing touches on venues, and fans around the globe are gearing up to support and celebrate these incredible competitors. The Games promises to deliver unforgettable moments of triumph and resilience, continuing the Paralympic legacy of inspiring positive change and showcasing the extraordinary achievements of athletes with disabilities.

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