The sanitary conditions are strict and fully respected by all participants. They have been the subject of particularly careful preparation by the Qatari authorities, the national federation and the International Judo Federation. Beyond the constraints imposed by the global health crisis, the fact that the entire judo family has come together for this debut of the sports season, shows that nothing is impossible and that judo proves once again that it is resourceful.
This is what the IJF President, Mr. Marius Vizer, emphasised during his welcome speech on the occasion of the draw, which took place entirely online, “I would like to thank the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and his government, the National Olympic Committee, the Asian Judo Union, the Qatari Judo Federation, the sponsors and the media, as well as all the participants of the World Judo Masters, for having done everything in their power to make this major event possible.
The Masters are one of the biggest events in the world. The best judoka are present. As we enter the last phase before the Tokyo Olympics in July in Japan, I wish everyone great health and success.
We are now opening the sports season in Qatar and we will soon also meet for the Grand Slams of Tel Aviv, Tashkent, Tbilisi and Paris, ahead of the World Championships in Budapest in June.
I appreciate at their true value, the efforts made by everyone. In the current difficult context, all the national federations have made great efforts to raise the level of world judo as high as possible. May they all be thanked and congratulated. Good luck to everyone!"
Mr. Obaid Al Anzi, President of the Judo Union of Asia, said, “I would like to thank the authorities of Qatar and the Judo Federation for the work they have done. It is a very great honour for Asia to host such a competition. Thanks to Mr Marius Vizer for believing in our ability to do so."
Mr. Khalid Hamad Alatiya, President of the Qatar Taekwondo, Judo and Karate Federation said, “We are very happy to welcome you to our country. After the organisation of the IJF Refereeing and Coaching Seminar last year and with the 2023 World Championships on the horizon, our goal is to develop judo in order to make it an educational tool for our youth, so that they are ready to live in a fulfilling way. The World Judo Masters will contribute greatly to this.
My warmest thanks are offered for the address of Marius Vizer who supports us and believes in us."
Following this introduction, Dr. Lisa Allan, IJF Competition Manager, launched the technical aspect of the draw, “Thank you very much to Mr. Mohamed Bouheddou and his team for realising this World Judo Masters. We are proud to have the judo family join together for the second time since the pandemic began, to collaborate and overcome adversity. Let us continue following the rules to have a successful and safe event. We must work together to protect the judo family!
We will start day 1 at 10:00, day 2 at 11:00 and day 3 at 10:00. The final block is at 17:00 each day."
Daniel Lascau, IJF Sport Director and Acting Refereeing Director said, “We are very happy and proud to be here. The best judoka in the world are in Doha and we have also selected the best referees, so that the best competitors win in the spirit of respect and fair-play."
Vladimir Barta, IJF Head Sport Director, gave some more statistics before the formal draw procedure took place, "We have almost 400 competitors, 399 to be precise (215 male, 184 female), from 69 countries. The top judoka are going to compete over the next three days and we are expecting some amazing judo."
With such a level of participation, it is particularly difficult to predict the end results. Everything is absolutely possible and everything will be both surprises and confirmations in the days to come.
Will Distria KRASNIQI (KOS) manage to keep the lead in the world ranking at -48kg, while the double world champion Daria BILODID (UKR) who will be back in her favourite category after a test at -52 in Budapest in October and the Japanese judoka TONAKI Funa, will also be present.
In the -52kg category, Amandine BUCHARD (FRA) will have a lot to do, with Majlinda KELMENDI (KOS), SHISHIME Ai (JPN) or even Odette GIUFFRIDA (ITA) standing in front of her, while in the next weight group Jessica KLIMKAIT (CAN) could score valuable points in the absence of her great rival and compatriot, the world champion Christa Deguchi.
In the -63kg category we will watch carefully to see if someone is able to compete with the great favourite Clarisse AGBEGNENOU (FRA), while the -70kg world champion, Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA), will try to regain the top of the podium in her weight division. She will have a lot to do to get there, with the other French fighter, Margaux PINOT (FRA), who is proving more and more dangerous on the world circuit. No matter the result, there will only be one -70kg place at the Olympics for the French delegation.
Another French world champion, Madeleine MALONGA, will be on the mat at -78 kg, in a category where the French delegation will align no less than three athletes.
Finally, in the women’s categories, the heavyweight title could be contested by the legend Idalys ORTIZ (CUB), the two Brazilians Beatriz SOUZA (BRA) and Maria Suelen ALTHEMAN (BRA) or Iryna KINDZERSKA (AZE), but surprises are not excluded.
For men the show will already be worth it in the -60 kg opening group, with the Russian team and the winner of the 2018 edition of the Guangzhou Masters, Robert MSHVIDOBADZE (RUS).
The little Italian who is constantly climbing, Manuel LOMBARDO, will want to prove that he deserves his world number one rank, in a category where the Mongolians, the Georgians and the Brazilians could find themselves in a position to decide the winner. Everything is possible.
HASHIMOTO Soichi (JPN) will be a scarecrow figure in the -73kg category. He could find in the quarterfinals a certain Fabio Basile (ITA), reigning -66kg Olympic champion.
The -81 kg category will be followed with attention because we will find the Belgian, Matthias CASSE, who does not make much noise but who progresses with each competition. There will also be the ineradicable Antoine VALOIS-FORTIER (CAN), the reigning world champion Sagi MUKI (ISR) and of course Saeid MOLLAEI (MGL), just that!
The -90kg men will not be left behind with Ivan Felipe SILVA MORALES (CUB), Krisztian TOTH (HUN), the 2019 world champion Noel VAN T END (NED) and another world champion in the judogi of Serbian Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB).
Will Peter PALTCHIK (ISR) be able to re-affirm his hard-won European title form, from the end of 2020? Will Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO) be able to show that he is still one of the favourites for the Olympic title next summer? Will Jorge FONSECA (POR) remain the best in the world, following his performance during the last world championships? These are some of the questions we can ask ourselves in the under 100kg category.
Finally, in the heavyweights, they are almost all there. There will be HARASAWA Hisayoshi (JPN), David MOURA (BRA), Roy MEYER (NED), Rafael SILVA (BRA), Inal TASOEV (RUS), Or SASSON (ISR), Guram TUSHISHVILI (GEO) and Henk GROL (NED), without forgetting ... Teddy RINER (FRA) who, and it is a clear evidence of the level of the competition, will not be seeded. We rub our hands in advance.
This World Judo Masters in Doha, Qatar, doesn’t just kick off the season, they will allow everyone to position themselves in the race for the world title next June and the Olympic title just a few weeks later. It is with great impatience that we await the first matches here, which will begin on Monday 11th January at 10:00 am. Follow the competition on www.ijf.org
Day 1 Women -48 kg, -52 kg, -57 kg Men -60 kg, -66 kg
Day 2 Women -63 kg, -70 kg Men -73 kg, -81 kg
Day 3 Women -78 kg, +78 kg Men -90 kg, -100 kg, +100kg