The March of the juniors continues! It is not just Japan sending their LA2028 team into the fray but a host of other nations. Brazil, for example, have placed former junior world number one Gabriel Falcao in the thick of the -73kg category. He has drawn Olympic Mixed Team gold medallist Guillaume Chaine and it will be a huge challenge but the 20 year old will not go down without a fight.

Then there is France’s Melkia Auchecorne, just 19 and competing at the Bercy already. She won gold at the 2023 junior worlds and will now take the huge step up to the Paris Grand Slam stage and at -63 kg this is no joke! In fact, she has either the great fortune or misfortune to have drawn the current top seed, Catherine Beauchemin-Picard (CAN) in her first contest. Perhaps the power of the occasion will carry her through, just as it did for Mokdar on day one.

Malkia Auchecorne (FRA), junior world champion.


An unseeded Agbegnenou is a loose cannon poised to wreak havoc on the -63 kg category. She is at home under the lights of the Accor Arena. She has six gold medals From Paris on top of her 6 world golds and this CV is not a fairytale; it is a concrete testament to the work she has done and the solutions she is capable of finding. No-one is safe to count their podium place in advance.

Horikawa (JPN) may be the first major casualty, although perhaps is also among a tiny group of opposition judoka who might be able to dethrone the undisputed Queen of the Bercy. Horikawa is also a world champion and has grand slam golds but this is her first Paris experience. They are set to meet in round 3, accepting that their byes and second round contests will go well. It’s a harsh draw but such is sport.

Seeding has never been more clearly demonstrated as a priority. Without seeding, everyone is under pressure, at the mercy of a randomly decided future, as felt by Maruyama and Basile on day 1.


The spectators in Paris are known for their volume, their reactive but knowledgeable response to all that is laid before them. 15,000 people will arrive with tickets in hand today, to see the middleweights. They will have pre-prepared signs for their heroes, flags, voices and a huge back-catalogue of judo history in their back pockets.

The audience is not just here to see great judo but to feel they are a part of arguably the best judo event in the world and on this 50th edition we are sure there is an added layer of emotion. Former champions of the Tournoi de Paris are everywhere. They bring their own nostalgia and contribute it to the incredible atmosphere that is talked about throughout the event. It is, in itself, a big reason why people return year after year.

Olivier Desroses refereed the -66 kg bronze medal contest at the Accor Arena, Bercy, on day 1.

On day one the spectators chanted “Olivier, Olivier, Olivier” and this was not in support of an athlete but a referee, Olympic referee Olivier Desroses, who stepped forward to referee in the final block to loud applause and his name reverberating through the arena. Where else in the world can we experience such a moment?

See also