Without a doubt, the stars of judo are the champions; Those who sacrifice everything for a medal, for a few minutes of happiness on a world or Olympic podium, but who, without the discreet presence of men and women in black, would not be these heroes of modern times.
These discreet characters, who tend to blend into the warm atmosphere of the IJF World Judo Tour stadiums, are all experienced judoka who travel on five continents without any hesitation because they are passionate about judo and they dedicate their lives to it.
The vocabulary they use is made up of 'Hajime', 'Matte' and 'Ippon' whose roots are deeply rooted in Japanese culture, the matrix of world judo, their gestures are codified, their movements studied.
Yet although discretion is their master word, their actions are commented and analyzed, sometimes criticized and rarely admired. The champion is bellowed, but the referees who designate the champion are forgotten.
However, even if decisions can sometimes be subjected to tensions when the emotion is at its height, all this always takes place with respect, because no one doubts the probity of the arbitral body.
It must be said that the task is not easy. In judo, decisions are made in a fraction of a second. It is thus necessary to be able to analyze a situation that can be complex, in the present moment, which by definition vanishes as soon as it has taken place. Before, everything can happen, after, it is too late. It is here and now that referees must make a choice that is always decisive.
To help the referees in their quest for the net result, video refereeing has been available for years already in judo and as the head refereeing directors say, the most important is that in accordance with the rules and values. Of judo, it is the absolute and clear winner who steps out of the tatami.
For several years, judo has undergone a true Copernican revolution. Without losing its values, inscribed in its DNA, the sport has evolved, changed and it has metamorphosed to adapt to a world in permanent turmoil.
Everyone agrees that modern judo goes faster, higher, stronger than ten or twenty years ago. A "Citius, Altius, Fortius" motto which corresponds perfectly to the turning point which the rules of arbitration, now decided collegially (body of referees, coaches, coaches ...) have taken over the past years.
Nevertheless the work remains undervalued and stressful and all those who are one day stepped on the tatami, dressed in black, deserve their own plaudits.