There are 88 nations inscribed for this weekend’s Tokyo Grand Slam and many of them we don’t meet at competitions very often. What does this say about the attraction of Tokyo or the time left to qualify for Paris 2024?

The Bahamas, Benin, Cambodia, Fiji, Guam, Kenya, Lao, Malawi, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Samoa, Sri Lanka and Tanzania are among the countries with representatives competing in the Japanese capital. Some athletes need to ensure their eligibility to be nominated for the Olympic Games, some wish to fight in the home of judo and some wish to catch an infectious feeling for the movement, preparation and skill that will be on display over the two days of competition.

Maria Escano of Guam.

Whatever the reasons, it all adds to the excitement and anticipation the judo world is enjoying in the lead up to the event. Diversity breeds surprise and of course it also breeds development and we love both of those outcomes!

Takato in Olympic gold medal winning form, 2021.

At the opposite end of the scale, we will also be looking forward to the enormous home team taking to the mat. The Japanese entry includes Olympic champions Uta Abe, Takato, Nagase and Wolf, and world champions Horikawa and Tsunoda, to name just some of the stars. We also note that they are joined by several new junior world champions, crowned in Odivelas just a few weeks ago, such as Kaito Amano and Mayu Honda.

Mayu Honda in Odivelas

At -60kg, -100kg, -57kg, -70kg, -78kg and +78kg Japan have maxed out their quota as the host nation, with 4 athletes registered in each category. Could we see all 4 medals stay at home in some divisions?

Whether we are cheering for our own nations, the stars of Japan or the small countries taking in all Japan has to offer, we know Tokyo will provide the sporting world with a spectacle, a showcase and also a display of every single one of our judo values.

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