A sporting event without an audience is an aberration. Even if for almost two years of global pandemic, stadia empty of spectators, as if emptied of their substance, became the daily routine of all competition organisers, no-one wants to relive these sometimes grotesque situations.

The public, the encouragement, the hoorahs of enthusiasm, the cheers of happiness and the sighs of disappointment are an integral part of sport, the sport that we come to see in a stadium, whether at local or international level, whether you go there with family, friends or enthusiasts of the discipline.

In saying this, everyone has in mind the incredible atmosphere of Bercy during the Paris Grand Slam, or even Tel Aviv, Tokyo or Tbilisi for example. All judo fans also remember the festive climate that reigned in Tashkent during the 2022 World Judo Championships.

A few weeks ago, we experienced with pleasure the warm atmosphere of the World Judo Championships - Doha 2023, which, while Qatar is a young judo country, proved that our sport is developing at high speed in the gulf region.

All this is to say that here in Tajikistan, as we tackle day two of the 2023 Dushanbe Grand Prix, we have all the ingredients for a great competition. There is obviously, first of all, the spectacle, the judo itself performed at the highest level. There is also the public and frankly it is a major player in the success of the event.

We are used to seeing the stadia fill up as the day progresses. Here, the rows of seats are already largely occupied thirty minutes before the first contests. There is applause and drums. We are obviously used to the sound level rising depending on who is on the tatami. Anyone who has ever been lucky enough to be in the heart of the Parisian arena when Teddy or Clarisse enter the competition area knows exactly what it produces: a surge of goosebumps and tingling in the stomach. We even sometimes have the impression that our eardrums are going to explode, so high is the number of decibels that can be reached.

In Dushanbe, we also have this feeling. There is passion in the air, the desire to see beautiful judo, to explode with an excess of joy and happiness, sharing moments of communion and unity. There is obviously the pleasure of supporting the local athletes, who without a doubt have all the votes, but there is also this simple pleasure of being part of the big party and as such, any judoka who produces good actions is encouraged and supported; the spectator version of fair play.

On the first day of competition, Tajikistan won a gold medal. It is the property of Obid Dzhebov, that's for sure but it is also certain that without his public, without this public, he could not have raised the level of his judo to climb on the highest step of the podium.

Sport is a story of passion and love. The stadiums are places of exchange and encounters. If sometimes, as in any human activity, there are excesses, we must never forget what the sporting spectacle is made for. Tajikistan has been proving it to us magnificently for two days. The only excess that we can see is the one of happiness and people can never be too happy, so let's enjoy the show.

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