What you don't see and what makes the show go on, is the teamwork before and after the matches. Come with us and we will tell you about all those people in suits, sitting behind the official tables with their laptops, microphones, cameras, papers and printers and with their blue accreditations.
The success of each World Judo Tour competition is heavily dependent on this team, comprising IJF staff and local officials, working together with the support of local authorities. Without all those people, nothing would be possible. They are bringing a successful and enjoyable competition to life. Having the right people on board is important to move things in the right direction, even to move them at all.
Thus, every single person behind the table is an expert, excelling in their area. Each is an essential cog, needed in order to turn the judo into a profitable and successful spectacle for you at home. But why is the team so important?
In the early stages, before all the participants arrive in the country, there is a long process that includes inspection visits to guarantee that everything is done according to the IJF and government regulations. There are hours of meetings, but also the registration, the accommodation of athletes, coaches, media and medical staff and the set up of the venue itself, which usually takes several days, accelerating over the 48 hours prior to the first match.
Of course everything has become a little more complicated with the new Covid-19 protocol that needed to be implemented in order to resume international events.
On the days of the competition, backstage you'll find the warm-up area where athletes start their day, accompanied by their coaches. Here there are people you almost never see, including the judogi control officers, who check and recheck hundreds of judogi throughout the day, to make sure that everyone has equal chances. There are the people in charge of the call room and all the technical staff that make sure that all delegations can follow the competition on big screens.
A little bit more visible, but still not under the spotlights, are the technical officials sitting close to the tatami. Each tatami has a team of five referees on rotation, waiting to go on to the mat. When the contest referee gestures, drawing the tv with their hands, this means they are waiting for feedback from the refereeing commission and the supervisors who analyse all the actions live, with the support of video, using up to 8 different angles. Actions are very fast and this star of the art, professional system allows the experts to be fair. This is crucial in a sport that moves so fast and is so explosive.
Running the competition is not a smooth journey but solving issues is normal. That’s what the team is here for. They are able to adapt to every situation very fast, under the leadership of Dr. Lisa Allan, who supervises the whole event.
Among the people that you might see if you look carefully at the images, you will find cameramen, photographers and writers who try to stay as discrete as possible, but without them, you won't receive the stories and special moments.
We also have protocol staff and medical and security personnel, volunteers, and also sitting at the technical table is the official announcer, whom we all recognise by voice, but maybe not by face.
In one corner of the venue, the IJF IT team is managing the live transmission on all our platforms and they are making sure that the internet remains stable throughout the competition; sometimes not the easiest work to do as it often balances on local contingencies.
There are so many more people who deserve to be named, one by one, as they are all essential, part of the efficient flow of elite judo. Without even one, problems arise, but the strength of the judo community is that it relies on a very strong capacity to adapt. This is the essence of judo and organising and event of the magnitude of the Tashkent Grand Slam proves that every day. Every organiser, technical official and person behind the scenes, make the running of the competition a success, shall be thanked warmly. They are all part of the big show, even if most of the time they are hidden from view.