The IBSA Grand Prix Antalya 2024 is in full swing. The setting is the same as for the grand slam which has just ended. The differences are minor and limited to a logo here or the name of the event there. Otherwise everything looks the same and this is reassuring. This equality between judo and para judo is one of the campaigns led by János Tardos, IBSA Judo Chairman, IJF Sport Commissioner and Technical Delegate for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
János Tardos

"I believe that we will have a great event in Antalya. It started very well indeed. We had more than 200 athletes registered from 45 countries. I am happy when I see those numbers. I am also always a bit sad because some of them couldn't compete after their eye classification. This is an important step in the process of participating in a para-judo event. It means that some judoka might be asked not to compete because they are not in line with our rules. It is strict but really important. This goes together with the fight against doping. The specificity of para-judo is that we have to deal with disability and we need to make sure that we have a fair sport, which is very much the case.

Talking about the event here in Antalya, I must say that we are thrilled with the level of organisation. The venue looks exactly the same as it did for the grand slam, the field of play is identical, the IT system runs very smoothly. Those are key factor for the success of an event and the level is very high in Türkiye, which for our athletes is important.

We still have one event left after this one as part of the Paralympic qualification programme. It will be in Tbilisi in May. After that we will close the qualification period. In total, there will be 148 judoka qualified for Paris 2024 and it will respect perfect equality. We will have 16 medal categories, 8 for men and 8 for women. The eye categories will be equal too: 4 J1 and 4 J2 for men and women. As overall we have fewer para-competitors, we don't have a continental quota like the Olympic Games does. The qualification is based on three principles: 1 - The World Ranking List 2 - The host country that can enter an athlete but only if they participated in the category in the last world championships 3 - the wildcards. The Paralympic Games for judo will take place from 5th to 7th September in the most beautiful place in Paris.

As we are getting close to the end of this cycle, we can already say that para-judo has changed a lot over recent years. We took several big steps. The first one was the introduction of judo in the Paralympic Games in Seoul in 1988. Then women participated for the first time in Athens 2004 and after Tokyo 2020 we introduced the new eye categories J1 and J2.

Para-judo is developing fast and we have become a true Paralympic sport. There are still places we want to develop, like some countries in Africa and Pan America. In Tokyo we had only one African country represented, we expect 7 in Paris. This is already a big improvement. We want more nations and more judoka involved. We are working together with the IJF and the African Judo Union to develop para-judo. In Pan America we want to develop the number of judoka too. Sometime the lack of development is due to economic reasons. We are also working on that.

Last but not least, we will continue to develop para-judo for women. For that we need to develop through education. We will work closely with the IJF Academy to make sure that all coaches have a minimum level-1 certification but we also want to develop specific modules for para-judo. Thanks to the support of the IJF and Marius Vizer, we will take new big steps in the future."

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