The 2019 season opened with Grand Prix in Tel Aviv, Israel, before Grand Slam events in Paris, France, and Düsseldorf, Germany before a Grand Prix in Marrakech, Morocco and a Grand Slam in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Georgia’s highly-regarded Grand Prix is part of IJF double header as the circuit moves on to Turkey next week for the third instalment of the Antalya Grand Prix before pausing for April’s respective continental championships.
The countdown clock for Tokyo 2020 recently breached 500 days and the entry in Tbilisi reflects the crucial time of the season and the proximity to the first Olympics in Japan since 1964.
With 584 days left until judo’s Olympic return to its homeland, the sport’s superpower nation of Georgia will host Olympic and world champions in abundance with all eyes on the New Sports Palace for the next three days.
Judo’s youngest world champion of all time, Daria BILODID (UKR), who is still just 18, returns to action for the first time since winning the Junior World Championships in October. BILODID launches her 2019 season on Friday and there’s the potential for new opponents including former world champion MUNKHBAT Urantsetseg (MGL).
Olympic champion Rafaela SILVA (BRA) will also compete on day one while fellow Rio 2016 gold medallist Tina TRSTENJAK (SLO) will be in action on Saturday alongside three-time world champion and double Olympic medallist Yuri ALVEAR (COL).
Former world champions Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI (GEO) and Loic PIETRI (FRA) along with world silver medallist Ivan Felipe SILVA MORALES (CUB) will all battle in the -90kg category on Sunday.
Mr. Vladimir BARTA (centre - above), IJF Head Sport Director, made the opening address at the draw which took place on Thursday afternoon at the Holiday Inn where it was revealed that 372 judoka will compete from 52 nations.
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the IJF President Mr. Marius L. VIZER, I welcome you all to Georgia. The Tbilisi tournament is one of the most historic and famous within our sport, and dates back to the 1970s, we are confident that in 2019 we will have another wonderful competition. I wish good luck to all the judoka, coaches and officials and wish you a pleasant stay in Georgia.”
Mr. Giorgi ATABEGASHVILI, Georgian Judo Federation President, spoke on behalf of the local organising committee.
"Welcome ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to see you again in Tbilisi, our beautiful capital of Georgia. I am proud that Tbilisi hosts this event for the sixth time, we have seen very interesting and exciting judo here and I think this year will be an excellent edition with every country bringing their best judoka here. I would like to thank the IJF for this opportunity to host this event once again; I’d like to thank the City Hall of Tbilisi and the Ministry. I wish you a nice time in Tbilisi and say good luck to you all.”