On September 20 at 10am (local time), it will no longer be a question of calculation and strategy, but to give the best of oneself to climb to the top of the judo planet. The National Gymnastics Arena and its 5,000 spectator capacity will then vibrate to the rhythm of ippons and the performance of more than 800 competitors, from 133 countries, registered to date. Such a distribution across the five continents perfectly illustrates the global dimension of modern judo. So there is no doubt that the new champions crowned in Baku will really be World Champions.
While waiting for the first rustling of judogi, the organizing committee of the Judo Federation of Azerbaijan and the International Judo Federation are working hard to propose an event that will fulfill the expectations of millions of Judo fans across the planet. In the coming days, the IJF will provide information on the broadcast of the competition on television channels.
Every day the competition will start at 10am, except for the teams where the first matches are fixed at 9am. The final block will start every day at 16:00.
DAY 1 - Thursday 20 September: M-60 / W-48 DAY 2 - Friday 21 September: M-66 / W-52 DAY 3 - Saturday 22 September: M-73 / W-57 DAY 4 - Sunday 23 September: M-81 / W-63 DAY 5 - Monday 24 September: M-90 / W-70 DAY 6 - Tuesday 25 September: M-100 / W-78 DAY 7 - Wednesday 26 September: M+100 / W+78 DAY 8 - Thursday 27 September: Mixed Teams
This year the competition will be spread over eight days, instead of seven in previous editions. Eight days of passion and high performance. Each day there will be two weight classes that will compete for the world title, while the last day will be dedicated to the mixed team tournament.
After a particularly successful first edition last year in Budapest, this format of competition will appear again on the international scene at the Baku 2018 Championships, before being honoured next year in Japan for the 2019 Worlds and especially before the 2020 Tokyo Games where for the first time in history a team tournament will be part of the Olympic program. But let's not go too fast because in less than thirty days, we will know if Japan will succeed to itself or if another strong nation of judo will subtilize the team world title.
In the individual tournament, it can be noted for example that among men, all together, only seven athletes present in the 'top eight' of each category will not be present in Azerbaijan. The most notorious absence is that of the ten-time world heavyweight champion, Frenchman Teddy Riner. The two-time Olympic champion announced that he will come to tatami in 2019 to prepare his Olympic selection to win a third title in Tokyo 2020, which would make him the most capped judoka in the history of the sport (as a result of his bronze in 2008).
It can also be emphasized that in the fourteen categories (men and women) all the world number ones will be present to either confirm their ranking or be dethroned. To date, the questions are still numerous: will Japan be the ogre announced in view of the latest results of the country of the rising sun? Can France, who is struggling in men and who will miss its hero Riner, compete with the best nations? Will we see new surprises like last year in Budapest with the victory of Alexander Wieczerzak (GER) in -81kg or Nemanja Majdov (SRB) in -90kg? The World Championships are a one-day competition and anything is always possible. What will be the performances of the host nations, Azerbaijan, which has placed its athletes for years on the highest steps of international podiums? What will happen to the new generation of champions who are hungry for victories and more experienced judoka who do not want to let go when Olympic qualifying is in full swing?
So many questions that can not be answered yet but that we will strive to deepen as the 2018 World Championships approach and especially from the moment they will start. Stay tuned!