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Athletes uncertain about development judo calendar
15 Jul 2020 11:45
Athletes need to be more patient than ever before in judo. The coronavirus hit the world of sports hard and a lot of events were cancelled, in facts all sports was cancelled including the Olympic Games. Judoka don’t know for which event they train as the calendar is yet a big question mark.
Under normal circumstances it should take about 100 days before the Grand Slam of Abu Dhabi would take place but that’s very uncertain.
In connection with the pandemic, all evets were suspended, which was a loss for the athletes and fans but it brought quite a few losses, including the betting market. There were no live broadcasts. Providers looking for a replacement in esports matches, like betting fans, have found an alternative to themselves in an online casino, in which traffic is currently growing.
Predicting when the first international judo event takes place a risky bet. In social media we can see many athletes train and they showcase their efforts online but they all know that there is a huge investment while not having a guarantee of an international event throughout the remainder of the year. There’s no way anyone can predict the outcome when the IJF World Judo Tour can continue.
There are still five events scheduled in the IJF World Tour. The Grand Prix in Zagreb in September, no way it’s going to take place. The Grand Prix in Tashkent in the beginning of October, which we expect will not be ready to invite athletes from all over the world. While the World Health Organisation still announces records of infections and thousands of deaths each day, there’s no way international sports can have a solid and equal qualification in October. The next week would be the Grand Slam in Brasilia where corona hit hard. Brazil is a red zone with many casualties. Sports is simply not the priority ‘but the second most important thing in life’, as many athletes would counter.
100 days countdown
We are hundred days away from the Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi but the UAE and some other Middle East countries are still in lock-down or partially closed. Air space is open and there are flights possible but for many countries it’s still forbidden to fly to. The last IJF World Tour this year is scheduled in Tokyo where traditionally the end of the year signs off a great judo year, not this time though. It’s a unique year in sports and it will go into the history books forever. Not even Olympic Games and with likely no further international judo events in 2020 the Olympic Qualification is still very tight for some of the athletes.
Only World Judo Day is a fact
The advantage of the crisis (if you have to name an advantage) is that most athletes took the time to heal from their injuries, spent more time with their families as ever before and some had to reconsider their careers and opportunities. However for some athletes Tokyo 2021 will come too late, the crisis was their moment to quite their career. When in the spring when the Olympic Games were cancelled, some athletes thought to have a better chance to qualify as they missed the boat due to injuries, but realistically the Tour can only get a restart in 2021 if all athletes should be able to get equal chances and to compete, once again in Tel Aviv, Paris, Dusseldorf like this year’s start of the season. Never there’s been such a desire to our favourite sport, never there’s been such a question mark whether the IJF Tour (which was founded in 2008) will proceed at all this year. Wishful thinking but we probably know the answer given the current circumstances in some parts of the world, knowing that a second wave is active in some countries like the host country of the Olympic Games, Japan. Covid-19 is the biggest enemy of any judoka in this moment. Self-control is one of the eight Judo values, this is the best ever practice. Make yourself useful to others. World Judo Day is for sure something we can celebrate at 28 October, albeit in a difficult year.
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Giovanni Zaraca (ITA)