During the coming week, the heart of world judo will beat in Lisbon, Portugal. After the exploits of the judoka of the World Judo Tour in Paris during the Paris Grand Slam last weekend, it is indeed the veterans, then the kata specialists, who will take part in the World Veterans (21st-24th October) and Kata (26th-27th October) Championships, in the Portuguese capital.

As athletes from all over the world as well as the officials of the International Judo Federation are gradually arriving in Lisbon, the installation of the hall is in full swing. For the moment if the sounds of hammers and screwdrivers still fill the atmosphere, Pavillion 1, Estádio Universitário de Lisboa, is already adorned with the colours of the event and soon there will be the sounds of bare feet on the tatami and breakfalls that will resonate.

The IJF President, Marius Vizer, declared, "The Portuguese Judo Federation remains strong, well organised and determined in the face of enormous global challenges. The stunning coastal location and enjoyable weather all year round offer the perfect backdrop for judoka to gather and celebrate the best parts of a life in judo. Our veterans have waited patiently for their pinnacle event of the year to re-emerge and with the extraordinary efforts of the local organisers, the 2021 edition of the World Championships for Veterans promises to be one to remember."

Jorge Oliveira Fernandes, President of the Portuguese Judo Federation, said, "It is a great honour to receive for the first time the Veteran and Kata World Championships in Lisbon! The Portuguese Judo Federation is committed to making this Veteran and Kata World Championships a reference, not only on an organisational level but also from a sport point of view.

This event will take place in a distinct context due to the global pandemic that the entire world is still facing but this only gave our Local Organisation Committee extra motivation to make a memorable event, even under this circumstance. We would also like to assure everyone that all security and safety measures will be taken to guarantee the health and protection of all the judo family."

Inspection visit of the IJF experts and the organising committee

Newcomers to Lisbon can immediately notice this. Picked up from the airport, they are guided through the PCR testing circuit to enter the health bubble which guarantees everyone's safety. As the stadium is located not far from the hotel where everyone resides, transport and therefore potential contacts with the outside world are reduced to a strict and necessary minimum. If that seems to take away some of the magic of a world-class event, the spectacle of the upcoming World Championships will not be disrupted in any way and we can expect competition of a very high standard.

The category of veterans is an integral part of the great judo family. We often find there former world-class stars who have not lost the taste for competition, as was the case of Mark Huizenga (NED). Today one of the pillars of the IJF Academy, he was Olympic Champion in 2000. In 2015, when he returned to competition, he won the veteran world title, admitting that things were more complicated than he had imagined. There are also hundreds of judoka who simply want to participate in this great judo festival that is the world championship and give the best of themselves. In a few days we will also meet with the family of kata specialists, an intrinsic dimension to the practice of our sport.

Everything is therefore being set up in Lisbon for a great celebration of judo across generations and practices. From Thursday 21st October, the first competitors will step on the tatami of the arena that promisses to look amazing. Good luck to all and long live judo!

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