There are only 20 days to go, fewer than twenty days to go. Paris is awash with banners, billboards, screens and more, all showing the French athletes who will compete at home, in all sports, not just judo.

Among the 206 nations and territories with athletes registered to compete will be our judoka, those we have been watching and cheering on for the last two years, during qualification, but perhaps much longer.

Families will be travelling to Paris to support their loved ones, friends will arrive with flags and printed personal t-shirts. There will be cheerleading squads such as those we have come to know and expect from Japan. There will be a multitude of professional and amateur photographers and journalists. There will also be sports fans and more specifically judo fans, all searching for those feelings which can only be supplied when attending an historic event such as this summer's Olympic Games.

Ilias Iliadis (GRE), Olympic champion in 2004. Photo by David Finch / Getty Images.

Do you remember where you were when young Iliadis won his Olympic title as a teenager? Maybe you were sitting in the Ano Liosia Arena in Athens, gasping as it happened in front of your eyes. Maybe you watched the Abe siblings take both titles at the Nippon Budokan on day two in Tokyo at the last Games. We all have special memories from the Games we have attended in person; it’s an irreplaceable experience.

Hifumi Abe and Uta Abe: double gold in Tokyo, 2021.

What about those of you staying at home, comfortable with your remote control, your own kitchen and the possibility to sleep well between sessions? Did you grow up with a crazy summer of sport once every four years, a two week extravaganza with your family enjoying a special sports party in your living room every single day? Maybe there were face paints, national dishes from different countries at dinner time, friends coming for specific finals.

Whatever your way of being involved, of supporting the athletes, of allowing yourself to be inspired, embrace it fully! It’s almost here and judo opens the Games, day one!

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