This is what we love about Paris and it only takes one picture to understand it. The Accor Arena is a cauldron in which the best judo simmers but it is not enough to simply have a magnificent stadium, it must be filled with an audience of connoisseurs and judo lovers.

In Paris, all of this is guaranteed. First of all, there is an exceptional line-up with the best athletes of the moment. With the Paris 2024 Games approaching, the level of engagement is only growing. We can already say that if the 2023 edition lives up to our expectations, that of 2024 will be explosive. We are ready but that's in the future and for the time being let's focus on the present.

We have a stadium which is now legendary for the judo family. Competing in the Bercy is a must, a moment which for the victors as well as for the vanquished, remains forever etched in their memories. Decades later, people continue to hear the stories of Bercy. There is a magical side to all this and it is because it is magic and cannot always be explained that it is beautiful.

Finally, there is the public. As we are in France, obviously, there is a small part of chauvinism. Here people obviously love all the judoka, but there is an extra hint of love for the tricolour competitors. How would it be otherwise and how to blame a public, which in any case remains in love with beautiful judo regardless of the origin of the athletes in action?

What is impressive and never ceases to amaze anyone lucky enough to push the doors of the Accor Arena is that from the first hours of the preliminaries, the seats fill up and the encouragement bursts out.

On the occasion of this 2023 edition of the Grand Slam, due to the number of judoka registered, the first rounds begin at 8a.m. Anywhere else on the planet, that would be considered a bit early but not here, not in the heart of the French capital. This morning at 8 o'clock sharp, the doors opened and the human tide began to surge. Barely thirty minutes later, the stadium was already almost full, from the first rows to the balconies which are lost in the heights of the arena.

In the Bercy, there is therefore an atmosphere and a particular spirit that everyone appreciates at face value.

In the audience, there is the whole judo family represented; the youngest, like the older ones, the most experienced like the novices who are just beginning to taste the show offered by judo. In a hall that hosts concerts and other major sporting events, judo occupies a prominent place.

In recent years we have suffered; due to the global pandemic, the stands had emptied. Judo was present but the vibes were missing. We find them again this weekend and the pleasure we feel is barely describable. You have to live it, you have to be there. We are and we are simply happy. To succeed, more than one ingredient is necessary. In Paris, we have all of them and as France is well known for its finest French cuisine, it is also for its judo spirit.

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