Vladimir Barta is not only an international judo expert, he has also been the mastermind behind the IJF sports calendar for many years. An elected member of the IJF Executive Committee since in 2007, he is also the Head Sport Director of the organisation and, as such, oversees the competitions of the World Judo Tour. The calendar is therefore him and his team from the sport department. As the World Judo Masters will conclude an exciting year of judo at the highest level, he explained to us what he retains from these twelve months of judo, maybe even more.

"In the past, we had a world championship every two years and some other major events that have made history in modern judo. I am thinking, among other things, of the Paris Tournament, the Kano Cup in Japan or even great tournaments like the one in Tbilisi, which all judo fans remember. It was obviously a brilliant period in world judo, even if it lacked consistency and regularity.

As soon as President Vizer was elected, we started working on setting up what we know as the World Judo Tour. We have created the conditions that allow national federations to send their athletes to tournaments throughout the year. With the annual world championship now, grand prix and grand slams, as well as the Masters such as the event we see in Jerusalem, we have an understandable and wildly exciting circuit.

When we launched this world circuit, some voices were expressed to say that it was a bit too much. We had to change habits and create new ones. Then two years ago, we were all faced with the Covid crisis. Suddenly, for a few months, we had no more events and then everyone realised that we needed to get together and that high-level judoka must be able to confront each other, in respect of the rules and values of our sport. Everyone, be it the federations, the coaches and of course the athletes, was thirsty for competitions.

This is what I can see here in Israel. These masters are of high quality. We have the best athletes present and they are giving their all, one last time before a well-deserved rest and before starting a new season, one which will be decisive for the 2024 Paris Games. Everyone's commitment is total and this confirms the choices we have made.

This season, I also noticed a very interesting element. It is linked to the appearance of the mixed team tournament during the Tokyo 2020 Games. This has profoundly changed the international sports landscape. Many delegations want to participate in this team tournament, it is logical. The key is that there is an Olympic medal at the end, without forgetting the world medals. During the 2022 Tashkent World Championships we again experienced a great team tournament.

One of the consequences of all this is that the practice of women is developing greatly in many countries. This is important, because to be successful at the teams, you now need to have men and women at the highest level.

Once again, I see it during the Masters, more and more nations are performing with their female athletes and it is really very encouraging for the future of judo."

Discussing with experts brings this, a perspective. Judo is doing well, proven here in Jerusalem, as has been the case throughout the year. In a few days everyone will be able to rest before we all meet again at the end of January in Portugal but that is another story, which we will talk about later.

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