Have you ever wondered how a World Judo Tour competition works? In asking this question, we think of all the energy that must be spent to ensure that each event takes place in the best possible conditions, so that the athletes can express themselves fully and concentrate on the judo they are mastering.

On the first day of the Tbilisi Grand Slam, as on those following, and more generally during each stage of the world circuit, everything will once again be perfectly oiled and spectators and judo fans will in turn be able to focus on what is happening on the tatami. To make it all work takes a lot of hard planning and effort from experienced and professional teams.

Here in Tbilisi, Georgia, once again the IJF team, in close co-ordination with the local organisers. is deploying significant energy to align everything and in this context it is often the details that make the difference.

An international competition is, even before the first matches take place, the installation of a venue, with all that this implies including cabling, setting up the tatami and tests. These are hours of work concentrated in just a couple of days. On the eve of the grand slam, it will therefore not be surprising to find the teams busying themselves with solving the tiniest problems until late at night.

Besides, do we not say that there are no problems, only solutions? It is in any case the state of mind of everyone, whether it is the person in charge of setting stickers on the tatami to the millimetre or the technicians who lay kilometres of cables to connect the monitoring systems, score boards or LEDs and all the look and feel of the stadium, to get it right. Every single piece of equipment needs to be checked. We have to make sure the sound is working properly, the checklists are huge, nothing is left to chance.

On Friday 24th March the tournament begins at 9:30am. It's not 9:29 nor even 9:31, it is exact! In the last hours preceding the first 'hajime,’ we can therefore see dozens of people focused on a single mission: the success of the event. The conductor of this installation, Claudiu Chimoiu, is present and attentive. In the days to come, he will be able to count on a venue manager, 2 TV operators and a director for the live broadcast, while the IJF filming crew, working in co-ordination with the host broadcaster, will count on 3 camera editors (photos and video), 1 data operator who will store live and classify all the images, and a cameraman who will be entirely dedicated to the production of reports for social networks and other communication channels.

The common point of all these people, as pointed out by Jack Willingham, who himself will lead the team of local cameramen, is that they are judoka. Not only do they know how to handle a professional camera but they know what they are filming and why. Once again, before the first image is produced, everything has to work and to work properly.

For everything related to IT technology, the IJF can rely on a team of 7 people who will do everything to ensure that the competition takes place as it should and that the results can be broadcast live. To this will be added the commentators of live.ijf.org

It would take pages and pages to describe the work of each aspect. No-one is superfluous, everyone has a role to play in this high-precision clockwork-like mechanism. Everyone alone in their corner could not obtain the result that the whole team is looking for. It is the sum of the skills that greatly exceeds the individual performance of each.

The most amazing thing to observe, when you take the time to sit down in a corner of the stadium, while the first judoka are getting ready, is that everything goes smoothly. If there is stress, it is barely palpable, infinitesimal. If there is no stress, it is precisely because everyone knows what they have to do and they do it no matter what. Words have no place in these hours of great effervescence, it is action that takes precedence.

In Georgia, we must add an armada of volunteers and employees of the national federation, 50 people in this case, but we must also not forget all the staff of the international federation who for years have guaranteed that the events of the World Judo Tour are an exemplar of organisation. A few weeks ago we were in Tashkent in Uzbekistan, now we are in Tbilisi and in less than two weeks we will be in Türkiye. In the end, what counts, whatever the energy deployed, is that hundreds of athletes will be able to express themselves fully, to the delight of their fans. And that, before you even think about it, is a guarantee.

See also