It’s draw time; the moment in every competition schedule when conjecture begins to be replaced by honest anticipation. The guess work reduces and the strategic planning takes over, at least it does for the delegations. For the spectators, sponsors and worldwide judo fans, it is the teasing and funnelling, guiding us to view the stars we love to watch and the challenges that lay ahead of them.

The draw in Tashkent has just taken place at the City Palace Hotel, attended on behalf of the International Judo Federation by Mr Vlad Marinescu, IJF Director General, IJF Head Referee Director Mr Armen Bagdasarov and IJF Head Sport Director Mr Vladimir Barta. For the Uzbekistan Judo Federation, the guests were Dr Adham Ikramov, Republic of Uzbekistan Minister of Sports, Mr Oybek Kasimov, Uzbekistan Olympic Committee General Secretary, and Uzbekistan Judo Federation President Mr Azizjon Kamilov.

Mr Vlad Marinescu gave the first welcome address, “It is always a great honour for the whole judo family to come together in the beautiful city of Tashkent in Uzbekistan, a country based on values and culture.

It is a pleasure to meet the Minister of Sports, Dr Adham Ikramov here again, who greatly dedicates his time and passion to the development of sport. We are especially grateful in judo for his dedication and attention, with the 2022 World Championships before and the hosting of the annual grand slam. This year’s is bound to be a great event with almost 500 athletes from around the world competing vigorously for their Olympic spots. Later in the year their efforts will culminate at the world championships and the Olympic Games in Paris. It’s always a pleasure to have the support of the Olympic Committee here with Mr Kasimov. To see you here with your energy and passion towards sport. Your dedication will give great energy to the athletes and public to enjoy these few days together.

I’d like to congratulate, of course, the Uzbekistan Judo Federation headed by their president, Mr Kamilov, someone who dedicates his energy and time to judo. We can see clearly the evidence of the national team participating around the world with great results at the Asian Games and on the World Judo Tour and with many athletes at the top of the rankings this weekend."

"We are bound to have a great event. We are bound to share the beauty of judo as we have 3 world number ones here and athletes from more than 60 countries. On behalf of our president, Mr Marius Vizer, and our entire executive board, we wish all the judo family and spectators an enjoyable weekend of great judo filled with our values, respect and culture.”

Dr Adham Ikramov then took the floor, “Good afternoon your excellencies. It is a great honour for all of us to host this unique event. As a minister of sport it is a great honour to be here with all members of the judo family under the leadership of Mr Marius Vizer. I thank warmly Director General Mr Marinescu."

Dr Adham Ikramov.

"We gave great attention to the monitoring of the grand slams in Paris and Baku and we hope that once more, in one of the biggest arenas in our country, with 500 judoka from 68 countries, we will live up to the same standards. I can assure you that our national team and our organising committee will try to do our best.

We try to popularise the sport in our country. With schools and coaches, with the IJF we created a special Judo in Schools programme. The continued support of Mr Kamilov also brought great success at the Asian Games and we hope to have a big team in Paris. I wish everyone a good stay in Uzbekistan.

Mr Oybek Kasimov also offered some words ahead of the draw process, “Dear distinguished guests and friends, on behalf of Uzbekistan delegation, we welcome all of you to our beautiful city of Tashkent.

Over many years we have had a lot of experience hosting big events at a high level, such as this grand slam. It’s a good experience for us, for our teams, working in such a professional way and I’m happy to see all of you here. I assure you the event will be hosted at a very high level. Once again, welcome to Uzbekistan.”

Mr Armen Bagdasarov then noted, “Dear judo family, the IJF Referee Commission has selected here, for the Tashkent Grand Slam, 15 of the best referees in the world. We wish all athletes the best of luck.

IJF Head Referee Director Mr Armen Bagdasarov.

Mr Vladimir Barta then introduced the draw, “Distinguished guests and judo family, we are here to start the draw of the Tashkent Grand Slam. Almost 500 athletes and 68 countries are represented with almost equity between men and women, 255 and 240 respectively.

Mr Armen Bagdasarov, Mr Vlad Marinescu and Mr Vladimir Barta.

I would like to thank our IJF IT Team for their hard and often hidden work, especially in this busy time of Olympic qualification.”

The draw was then underway, the 14 categories listed, checked and posted online in readiness for the competition to begin promptly at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Humo Arena. Day two begins at the same time and day 3 at 9:30 a.m., final blocks commencing at 5 p.m. follow all the live action via

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