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Over 500 judoka registered for Grand Slam in COVID hotspot

15 Oct 2020 11:05 / judo news, results and photos

With just a week to go for the comeback of international judo in the IJF World Tour, more than 500 athletes are registered for the first Grand Slam in Hungary. The coronavirus makes a comeback as well in Europe and Budapest is one of the most contaminated cities. We all want Judo back but there are mixed feelings despite the enthusiastic draft roster of top players from around the world.

So far 79 countries have registered like there’s nothing going on, but we are obviously eager to fight again and qualify for the postponed Games. Not everybody is as enthusiastic though. There are many worries about the safety conditions despite all measures to compete in the Grand Slam.

Australian Olympian Nathan Katz has his concerns: “We train 2-3 times per day, 6 days a week with the sole focus of qualifying for our 2nd Olympic Games in Tokyo, and to win an Olympic medal for Australia.

I find it really hard to understand how anyone could possibly think it is a good idea, safe or fair for all athletes around the world to hold Olympic qualifying events in Europe during this period.

With very limited flights for 50+ hours, 2 week self paid hotel quarantine when we re-enter Australia and no health or travel insurance due to the pandemic; how do we have equal access to this event? Besides from the fact there’s over 28,000 active cases in Hungary, in a country that has a low testing rate.

To be 100% clear, there is nothing we want more than to return to competition. We are in competition shape, healthy and hungry. But how is it fair to have Olympic Qualification points on offer when all countries don’t have equal access to compete?

The health and safety of athletes should be the number 1 priority and that doesn’t involve athletes travelling from around the world into a COVID hotspot.”

Find the draft participants list for the Judo Grand Slam in Budapest here

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