2021 is a somewhat special year; everyone knows it and yet the Paris Grand Slam still has that scent of grandeur that suits it so well. On this Friday 15th October a new draw took place behind the scenes at the Accord Arena, while dozens of technicians were preparing the venue to welcome athletes and spectators over the weekend.
The draw was held in the presence of the International Judo Federation President Marius Vizer, Jean-Luc Rougé, Secretary General, Vladimir Barta, Head Sport Director and Florin Daniel Lascau, Head Refereeing Director. For France Judo (French Judo Federation), President Stéphane Nomis was accompanied by Frédérique Jossinet, Vice President, Magali Baton, Secretary General and Sébastien Nolesini, the General Manger.
Marius Vizer declared, "This weekend we are going to celebrate 50 years of the Tournoi de Paris, which is now known as the Paris Grand Slam. It is one of the most prestigious events in the world. For that, I want to congratulate the French Federation and its past and present presidents for all the work they did and are doing. I want to congratulate you for the great results obtained in Tokyo as well and I wish all the best to all the participants of this 2021 edition."
Then Stéphane Nomis took the floor, "I am happy to welcome you all here to Paris for the 2021 Paris Grand Slam. 50 years! This is exceptional and unique and we can all be proud. Good luck to everyone."
As soon as the draw was over, the room was prepared for a new seminar on the tatami with all the referees who will be officiating during the weekend. After the Zagreb and Olbia editions of this original judo session, the referees had the honour of welcoming Haruki Uemura, Kodokan President and Olympic champion and Jean-Luc Rougé, IJF Secretary General and World Champion, to the tatami.
After the session, Mr Uemura declared, "First and foremost I'm really happy and pleased with the work done by the referees and the IJF Refereeing Commission. It is so important that all referees join together on the tatami in judogi and share knowledge. The referees have a great responsibility and they need to exchange all the time. Such a practical judo session is crucial."
Jean-Luc Rougé added, "To judge a judo match is not only about theory. It's also about feelings. This is important to clarify points on the tatami and it is necessary that all referees can experience by themselves what competitors do. It is an interesting format because on the one hand, being on the mat in judogi looks a bit traditional, but on the other hand their is the video support and other new technology involved. I think that is exactly what makes judo successful, this combination of tradition and modernity."
Raul Camacho will be on the tatami during the weekend and for him it was also a special moment, "I am proud to be part of this organisation and I am happy to be with all my colleagues from all continents. All together we are stronger. There are many new referees coming in, now that we enter a new cycle, but I can guarantee that all referees, newcomers and more experienced ones, are thrilled to be here in Paris. This is such a special event."
Thus the Paris Grand Slam 2021 is about to begin. On Saturday at 10am sharp the first ippon and waza-ari will resonate in the venue. Athletes, coaches and referees will be concentrated more than ever, because winning in Paris tastes different. On this 50 year anniversary it is even more special. Stay tuned for more news coming soon and enjoy the show and the celebration.