Despite the complicated situation because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the chair of the IJF Veterans Commission, Denis Weisser from Germany, is optimistic about an event that is very important for Portugal and the Portuguese Judo Federation. Recently he explained to the Portuguese publication, Judo Magazine, how he feels about the upcoming competition.
"First of all, I would like to say how delighted I am to be in Lisbon soon. Although we are still in a state of pandemic, I would like to stress that this event comes at the right time, even if we are a bit sad that it is not taking place under normal conditions and in a closer accordance with the veterans' expectations regarding international competitions.
It is important to remember that the original veteran group that participated in the world championships was very small. It then grew bigger and bigger and today it has a great attraction all over the world because its dynamism is linked to two key ideas: judo is practised for life and judo provides new experiences.
Today we have athletes in all age groups in a wide range of activities. We have judoka who are 80 years old and train regularly. In Marrakech, prior to the pandemic, there was a record participation of 1200 participants. When the veterans come together, they represent the whole judo family on several levels: they are coaches, athletes, judges, sponsors and club managers who want to do something together. They very much appreciate the social dimension and also the bonds of friendship.
I have been to Lisbon before, a few years ago and I am very much looking forward to going there again. As far as participation is concerned, we already have more than four hundred registrations from 41 countries. Big federations like France and Germany have not yet completed their nominations. The registration period is ongoing.
Judo is everyone's passion and the attendance of several generations at the events brings back memories. It's a great way to bring judo to life. Friendships are always a constant at these meetings. Old friends meeting again, that's always a celebration.
I understand that people do not want to stay in a bubble, but we also know that the effects of the coronavirus can be more severe for older people and less severe for younger people. We have to stick to the health protocol very strictly. Together with the IJF Medical Commission and the PJF (Portuguese Judo Federation), we decided that we should have two tests on arrival, a mandatory stay in the hotel and other rules. However, in the hotel you can meet, talk and share nice moments. Once the competition is over, everyone is free to pursue their own programmes outside the hotel.
One has to understand that many people are interested in coming and competing. Besides the judo, Lisbon is a beautiful city that many people would like to visit. The Portuguese are so hospitable and the weather is very good. We expect everything to be well organised. The Portuguese Federation is known for organising competitions well.
I believe that even if fewer people were to come than usual, continuing this way was a good decision. It was important to keep going and I am sure that at the next event the number of participants will increase.
If we look back at what happened over the past months, the impact was huge in the context of veterans' activities. It was not possible to train and there were various restrictions. Of course it was possible to use a smartphone and participate in online initiatives but it's not the same as going to the dojo and being with friends and working together.
I am the president of a club in Bavaria with about 120 judoka and we had to cope with the difficulties of complete and then partial training interruptions. For all of us, the desire to reopen the dojo was central. Of course, a new beginning is not easy, neither for the elderly nor for the young but we are now in a situation that guarantees better safety conditions for all and we must be confident that we will be able to return to the former level of judo soon. One thing is certain, we do not want any judo athlete to suffer because of a lack of rigour in dealing with this matter. We want good judo in good health conditions for all practitioners.
I would like to emphasise once again that all those who can make the effort to overcome the difficulties related to the trip to Lisbon should do so. I would like to remind you that we will have referees of the highest international level. Some of them recently refereed at the Tokyo Olympics. In this way, there is great solidarity, not only among veterans, but among all groups in the sport, as in the case of the referees I just mentioned.
We are working as a real team with members of the IJF, PJF, referees and others and I am very optimistic about the World Championships, which will soon take place in Lisbon."
More information about the IJF Veterans Commission: https://veterans.ijf.org/
Source: Judo Magazine - CLICK HERE