We can never say it enough, Paris is something! It is something different, something bigger and stronger, something that leaves you wanting to come back. For this first day of competition during Grand Slam Paris 2023, we had it all: emotion, great winners, commitment to the limit and of course we were happy to meet again the public that we missed so much for three years.

The medallists of the day can be satisfied. They succeeded in their competition by reconciling pressure and relaxation. For all the others, once the disappointment passes, they will remember having entered the arena in front of an enthusiastic audience like which there are few, if any at all.

Just before the start of the final block, the opening ceremony was also part of the day one schedule and at 4pm the lights came up on the podium for IJF President Mr Marius Vizer and France Judo’s President Stephane Nomis.

Mr Nomis welcomed all gathered, "Hello everyone. Dear public, dear fans, dear judoka, dear Marius, I wanted to thank you to be so many times at this 52nd international tournament of the city of Paris, now called the Grand Slam Paris.

I really wanted to thank Marius Vizer for all the work done by the IJF during the World Judo Tour and for having offered us the opportunity to organise a grand slam in Paris.

Marius Vizer, IJF President

I went all over the world, to all competitions and really you are the best public in the world. Among all the judoka from all over the planet and I have met the Japanese too and everyone wants to participate in the tournament here in Paris; they all want to win in Paris. Today I met many former winners and many former medallists. I want to give them a big round of applause because they made us dream. You are the biggest tournament in the world.

Today our federation is doing well. We have reached 500,000 judoka. We have many projects, including the 1000 dojos programme. I wish great success to all participants."

Mr Vizer then stepped forward, “Distinguished guests, dear judo family members, dear spectators, dear French federation and President Nomis, on behalf of the International Judo Federation, welcome all to Grand Slam Paris.

France has always been the guardian of the universal values of freedom, fraternity, equality and non-discrimination in society and in sport. That is why we always respect France and the French values.

War and politics can not divide sport and can not divide us. Sport and religion bring the most important values of society, which promote principles of respect, solidarity and peace. Sport is the last bridge, which today in the world’s confrontations can be a messenger for peace and unity and can work for reconciliation. I wish judo to be always a symbol of peace, a symbol of unity, solidarity and friendship in the world.

Thank you very much to all our partners, the spectators and to the athletes for Grand Slam Paris 2023. I wish you a successful event. Thank you."

The Accor Arena in Paris

A rousing edition of the French national anthem brought an arena full of voices, followed swiftly by the IJF anthem.

Then in front of thousands of entranced spectators, the first seven categories of the event were played to their conclusions. Much to the delight of the hosts of this legendary competition, the first gold medal went to hang around the neck of a tricolour athlete, Blandine Pont, who was imitated by her teammate Priscilla Gneto, two categories above. We can already say that nothing could have begun better for France Judo.

It was wonderful to see the different flag ceremonies that took pace during an exciting final block. A lot of colours were on display, showing the distribution of judo stars throughout the world.

At the end of day 1 in Paris the medal table bodes well for the host nation, leading the way with 2 golds, a silver and a bronze ahead of Israel who won the last gold of the day to accompany a bronze already tallied. Also with a jubilant gold from Iadov and a bronze from Bilodid, Ukraine sits in 3rd. Remarkably Japan is nowhere to be seen but we have seen a last minute surge in the past and no medal table is complete until the final contests of the final day are done.

Opening ceremony

Now all eyes are already looking at day 2. Be ready as Teddy Riner is competing among many other top level athletes. Let's face the reality though, having the king Riner back on the circuit here in Paris is very special. Last time it happened, he was defeated by Kokoro Kageura (JPN). This was unexpected and the public was quiet for several minutes, not believing what they had just witnessed. In a few hours, we'll be able to tell a new story and we are already looking forward to it. Be there at 8:00am sharp to follow all the action https://live.ijf.org

See also