The Heydar Aliyev Baku Grand Slam 2023 was officially opened on day 1 of the event at the National Gymnastics Arena.

The ceremony began with the welcome of all the participants, guests and officials who attended the competition, an event dedicated to the 100th anniversary of national leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev. As part of the World Judo Tour, this grand slam, traditionally held every year in Baku, gathers together the world's best judoka to compete at the highest level and inspire future generations.

Each of the 61 delegations were announced, while their respective flags were displayed on the big screen, just before a video was shown.

Guests were invited to come to the stage: Dr László Tóth, President of the European Judo Union and Vice-President of the International Judo Federation, Mr Rashad Nabiyev, President of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation, and Mrs Mariana Vasileva, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Mrs Vasileva said, “On behalf of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Azerbaijan, I welcome you to Baku! For many years, sports in our country have been covered with special attention by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, President of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan Mr Ilham Aliyev.

From left to right: Mr Rashad Nabiyev, Dr László Tóth and Mrs Mariana Vasileva

The Azerbaijan Judo Federation performs its work at a high level. Judo is already developing in almost all regions of Azerbaijan.

446 athletes from 61 countries of the world gathered together here for the Baku tournament. This competition will allow athletes to earn points for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. I wish success to all participants! Let the strongest win!”

Mrs Mariana Vasileva

Mr Rashad Nabiyev declared, “On behalf of the Azerbaijan Judo Federation, I am pleased to welcome you again to the Baku Grand Slam. This event is being held for the 9th time in our country and is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of national leader Heydar Aliyev, which makes it especially prestigious and significant for us. Today, Azerbaijan is a strong, developed and leading sports country.

Our athletes, including our judoka, perform successfully in international tournaments. Today, Azerbaijan stands proudly among the leading countries in judo.

During this year, our junior and young judoka won successive victories in prestigious international competitions. Our junior team took first place in the medal standings at the European and World Championships. Khadija Gadashova opened a new page in the history of Azerbaijan judo as the first female world champion.

During this year, our federation paid special attention to gender equality by stimulating girls to practise judo. Our campaign ‘White Suits Girls’ is an important step in this direction. Our girls are already demonstrating their skills in the international arena and we believe that their success will continue.

Mr Rashad Nabiyev

We are also doing extensive work in the direction of improving infrastructure, opening new judo halls in the regions, supplying tatami for the development of judo in our country. As a result, in a short period of time, the number of judo practitioners in the country increased by more than 4,000 people and exceeded 18,000 people in total.

As a federation, we attach special importance to the training of coaches and I would like to highlight the co-operation with the IJF Academy. Already 70 of our coaches have the certificate of this Academy and currently another 100 coaches are continuing their education.

Dr László Tóth

I am deeply grateful to Mr Marius Vizer, President of the International Judo Federation, for his great trust and support for the organisation of the tournament. I believe that the tournament, as always, will be held at a high level and all participants will leave our country with good impressions. I wish success to all athletes participating in the tournament.”

Dr László Tóth concluded, “It's a great honour to be here on the occasion of the Heydar Aliyev Baku Grand Slam 2023. I want to thank President Marius Vizer and the IJF team for the excellent organisation. A special thank you to the government, the national federation and the National Olympic Committee for their continuous support for the the development of our sport. I wish a successful event to everyone. I declare the Heydar Aliyev Baku Grand Slam 2023 open!”

Following the speeches, the national anthem of the Republic of Azerbaijan and that of the IJF were played, concluding the opening ceremony just before the beginning of the first final block.

See also