Rufat Hajili is the chief of the IBSA Presidential office and assistant to the IBSA President, Mr Ilgar Rahimov. His journey began by being part of the Azerbaijan Paralympic Committee as the head of international relations and marketing. During that time, he was already working in close collaboration with President Rahimov who is also a former President of the Azerbaijan Paralympic Committee. Mr Hajili, who was a judoka himself during his childhood, has gained plenty of experience throughout his journey, but also a wife.
Rufat Hajili and his wife

“The first time we had an IBSA grand prix in Azerbaijan, in 2019, I met my wife, Sevda Valiyeva. Following that, we got engaged and after the Tokyo Paralympic Games, where she won gold, we got married.

Tokyo was the first Paralympic Games for me, but I think no previous Games were better than this because we gained 14 gold medals for Azerbaijan, 6 from judo. This put us among the top 10 on the overall medal table. It was a magnificent achievement for Azerbaijan.”

Mr Hajili has been appointed the Chef de Mission of the Azeri team for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. However, he still fulfils his duties for the IBSA committee.

“Following the Tokyo Games, I continued working at the Azerbaijan Paralympic Committee and at the same time, I was working with the president of IBSA. Now, we are working on the reform of IBSA and building a good partnership with the IJF and other sport organisations. We are working on a memorandum of understanding between the IJF and IBSA which should be signed in a few months.”

For Germany, Mr Hajili arrived to continue with his dual role. “I am here with the Azerbaijan team. At the Paralympics my favourite sport is judo; I love judo and being with the team. Events are organised at a high level and you get to see these high level judoka in action. I really think the best sport in IBSA is judo.

Of course, I am also here to observe on behalf of the IBSA office, especially for the classification but also looking at sport management and the work of the local organisers.”

Tokyo to Paris?

“The biggest changes are definitely within classification but I think there should be more work done with the mechanism of it, it should be improved. Our president has some suggestions to change the classification, to improve the conditions. Upon his election we already created conditions for the sports sector, anti-doping, classifications etcetera, and these conditions are assisting the development of the sport overall.”

“With the changes, now we have more J1 judoka. This is a great achievement. Work still needs to be done of course, especially around the weight categories and the number of events as well as plans to introduce tournaments to younger VI judoka, from the grassroots level.”

How did the IJF coming on board change, if at all, the dynamic of these events?

“Of course, it makes IBSA judo stronger. Thanks to the IJF contributions and support, we became more popular and professional.”

This weekend the 2024 IBSA Judo Grand Prix Heidelberg is taking place in Germany. Rufat Hajili will pay attention to all details as usual as a key person for the success of the event.

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