If the sporting value of the grand slam is undeniable, the fact that, on 6th February, Türkiye was hit hard in the heart by the earthquake of which killed thousands, bringing a strong symbolic value.
In her introduction, Dr Lisa Allan, IJF Events Director said, "Dear judo family, on behalf of our President, Mr Marius Vizer, and the International Judo Federation, we welcome you all to the beautiful city of Antalya for the 2023 grand slam. It's a time of great sadness and we want to stand in solidarity with our dear friends and colleagues who have all been affected by the recent tragedy in Türkiye. We are proud of our community, their values and their strength as we come together to do everything we can to comfort and rebuild.
In a generous act of openness and sportsmanship this grand slam goes ahead with an extraordinary judo spirit and the support of our partners and sponsors, alongside the invaluable leadership of the Turkish Judo Federation and its President, Mr Sezer Huysuz.
Thank you President Huysuz to you and your team for the preparation of this event, which has been of the highest standard. We also thank the city of Antalya for their support.
Returning to Antalya for the last event before the athletes qualify for the world championships in Doha means that we have an exceptionally large number of participants and we ask for your understanding for the early start time.
With the Turkish Judo Federation, the International Judo Federation will do the very best to ensure the smooth running of the competition. We wish everyone good luck."
Mr Sezer Huysuz then took the floor, "Dear distinguished guests, thank you for being back here in Antalya. Dear athletes, coaches, referees and officials, I want to address a special thank you to Mr Vizer for giving us the opportunity to organise this event in Antalya again. We are very proud of the international judo family being with us, especially in this time of tragedy. It gives us a lot of hope.
Having you here, we feel much better. It will help us to recover from this tragedy. Thank you for being with us all the time and thank you again for coming here in this beautiful city of Antalya. I wish to see you again and again. I wish good luck to everyone on the road to the World Judo Championships - Doha 2023."
The regular procedure of the draw began with Florin Daniel Lascau, Head Referee Director, explaining that the best referees in the world were selected to officiate during the weekend, while Vladimir Barta, Head Sports Director, conducted the official draw.
To conclude, Sheldon Franco-Rooks, who presented the draw, delivered all the necessary information for the smooth running of the event, including the starting times: 7:30 on day 1, 8:00 on day 2 and 8:30 on day 3, while all final blocks will start at 17:00 sharp. He also reminded all that on 6th April the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace will celebrate its tenth anniversary and that the international judo family will once again be associated with it. The celebration will start this weekend on the occasion of the grand slam and will continue next week in Kilis, with the visit of Nicolas Messner, Judo for Peace Director and Leandra Freitas, Judo for Children Commission, accompanied by Kaya Gezeker, representing the Turkish Judo Federation. The Judo for Peace programme has been running in the Kilis region since 2014, offering the local and refugee population from Syria tools to build a better world. As the region was also hit by the earthquake, this visit will be a support to those affected by the disaster while offering a practical presence to the population.
Yes, the Antalya Grand Slam will be special this year. It's going to be an amazing and emotional sporting event. Follow the live at https://live.ijf.org
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