As is the case for all IJF events, a refereeing meeting took place ahead of the weekend in Heidelberg, where the first IBSA grand prix of the year is being held. Both IBSA Judo Referee Directors, Kenichi Shoshida and Henk Plugge, were present to deliver their message. To help also during the weekend, referee supervisors Cathy Fleury and Giuseppe Maddaloni were both on site. The selection of referees was the outcome of a decision of the IBSA and IJF refereeing commissions, to guarantee that an elite line up would be ready for action.

Some of the topics that were discussed during the meeting were:

  • Understanding the separation of the J1 and J2 groups: A red circle on the back number indicates the athlete is totally blind and therefore belongs to the J1 group. A red and yellow circle on the back shows that this judoka has both, vision andhearing impairments. A single yellow circle is an indication of a hearing impairment.
  • Escorting judoka to the middle of the contest area: With the J1 group, athletes must hold the referee’s elbow to be led to the contest area. For J2, in general athletes are able to walk alongside the referee. However, the rule can be amended based on exceptional circumstances. In the case of extreme height difference, judoka can hold the referee’s shoulder instead.
  • Starting position and kumi-kata: Square at the starting position, both judoka must take a grip on their preferred side, strictly on the sleeve and lapel. No feeding of the grip into the hand is allowed, the first grip goes. In the case where judoka can’t settle with a starting grip, the referee will call out the athlete in the white judogi to take kumi-kata first. The starting grip then will alter between blue and white for the remainder of the contest. If one still battles to settle, a penalty will be given. Kumi-kata is the responsibility of the judoka, not the referees.
  • Breaking the grip is only allowed to make an immediate attack or to take another grip. Everyone must fight with two hands on. If a judoka breaks the grip and applies no attack and doesn’t seek to regain their grips, a penalty will be given.
  • Leg grabbing rules fall under the IJF protocol with exceptions to be considered based on each circumstance.

Further topics, such as stepping out of the contest area, were also discussed. Although most of the athletes are blind or visually impaired, there are a handful of judoka with an additional hearing impairment. The refereeing committee ensures that all rules are re-examined prior to the event. As for the hearing impairment, several signals were discussed.

The venue is ready

Several video clips were used to support the meeting. At the end, Mr Plugge concluded, “For Paris we won’t change the rules but for Los Angeles, we are thinking of a few changes.”

Events are streamed live online via the IBSA YouTube Channel. Good luck to all participants!

See also