Relocated for two years to Osaka, during the preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Games and after the global pandemic, the Grand Slam is back in the Japanese capital, much to the joy of all.
The season was particularly rich in events and twists and since the end of June, the Olympic qualification has begun, giving each competition a particular flavour. The Tokyo Grand Slam, which comes at the end of the season, will be no exception to the rule. The points distributed here will be worth gold when the time comes to determine the list of participants for Paris 2024.
However, getting to the podium in Tokyo, for any judoka, is not insignificant. It remains forever engraved in the memories and in the prize list. There are many reasons for this. We will remember that performing in the country where judo was born in 1882, in a competition where Japanese athletes are in force and want to shine in front of their public, is always an achievement.
This year, 59 delegations are present, 201 men and 145 women, for a total of 346 competitors. During the draw, which took place today in the vicinity of the stadium which housed the table tennis during the Tokyo 2020 Games, the judo having taken place in the legendary Nippon Budokan, Mr Jean-Luce Rougé, IJF General Secretary declared, "Ladies and gentlemen, in the name of the IJF President, Mr Marius Vizer, it is my pleasure to welcome the 59 delegations here, to Tokyo. Thank you to Mr Yamashita for the magnificent organisation. As you know, judo was invented in Japan by Professor Jigoro Kano. It was created not only as a sport but as an educational system, focusing on peace around the world and the building of a better society. In a very difficult time for humanity, more than ever the values conveyed by our our sport are needed. We can share our fraternity and contribute to the wellbeing of everyone around the globe."
Then Mr Yamashita, All Japan Judo Federation and Japanese Olympic Committee President, declared, "Dear Mr Vizer, dear IJF Executive Committee members and distinguished guests, dear judo family, it is with great pleasure and privilege that I welcome you to the Tokyo Grand Slam. The world's best judoka are now united in Japan, including ones who achieved great success at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the recent Tashkent World Championships. We can expect heated competition from the world’s best judoka this weekend. I hope that all participating nations competing in this event can fully demonstrate the results of their daily effort.
I would like to thank President Vizer and the IJF for their support and continuous partnership at this event. In additional, thank you to TV Tokyo and all of our sponsors for their partnership. In particular, I would like to express a special thank you to Token Corporation, the title sponsor of this grand slam. I sincerely hope that all will nurture close friendship here in Japan and that your stay in Tokyo will be a memorable one."
Dr Lisa Allan, IJF Events Director, gave all necessary and practical information for the smooth running of the event, "Following the IJF Sport and Organisation Rules, anti-doping rules and Covid rules, we will have a safe and successful competition. Safety and security are our priority.
The competition takes place in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Tomorrow we have the -57kg, -63kg, -70kg, -73kg, -81kg and -90kg categories. We begin at 9:30am and the final block on two tatami (medal contests only) will be at 3:30pm. Day 2 is the -48kg, -52kg, -78kg, +78kg, -60kg, -66kg, -100kg and +100kg categories and will start at 11:00am with the final block at 5:30pm."
IJF Sport Director, Mr Michael Tamura, conducted the draw for the 14 weight categories: CLICK HERE
Just before the conclusion, Dr Lisa Allan informed all delegations that for the first time, in coordination with the IOC, a new service will be provided for the athletes. "Athlete365 powered by Greenfly is an IOC initiative created by athletes, for athletes. Its purpose is to support athletes throughout their journey in sport on and off the field. Athlete365 provides tools, services and a strong global network to help athletes tackle the challenges that come with competing at the elite level."
The Tokyo Grand Slam, presented by Token Corporation, is now ready to kick off and we are all ready to witness the best judo and lots of ippon. You can follow us on social media using the hashtag #JudoTokyo. On https://live.ijf.org/ you can watch all the athletes in the final grand slam of 2022, before the World Judo Masters to be held in Israel at the end of the month.