Judo Grand Prix, Baku 2012, Appointment with the Future

Appointment, For the second consecutive year, from May 5 to 6, 2012, the judo world will meet on the seashores of the Caspian Sea, in what has become an unmissable event on the World Judo Tour. Last year, the Judo Federation of Azerbaijan, led by its President, Fizuli ALAKBAROV, also Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Azerbaijan, fulfilled the challenge of organizing the event that Tunisia had to let go due to the social and political situation in the country. Under the leadership of the IJF President, Marius Vizer, who did not want to condemn a Grand Prix, the IJF had decided, with success, to transfer the competition in the beautiful city of Baku.

After having organized the second edition of the Masters in January 2011 (first edition was held in Suwon, Korea), Azerbaijan was therefore an obvious choice to take up the torch, which was masterfully done in 2011.

Between the two editions of the Baku Grand Prix (2011 and 2012), things have sportingly changed, since last year, the same competition was a qualifying event for the Olympic Games to be held next summer in the UK, while for this year’s edition, the Olympic qualifying process is over since last weekend (following the continental championships).

Nevertheless the engaged judoka here in Baku will still be collecting valuable points that determine the Judo World Ranking List, which keeps running; points which have the same value as those awarded during the events of recent months. As noted by the IJF Head Sports Director, Vladimir BARTA, during the draw: “in terms of participation, we suffer a little, and it makes sense, because the Olympic qualifying process if now over. However, in 2012, the competition will be a test for many athletes who are still in research of settings for the Olympics and it will especially help the delegations to begin to considering the ‘after Olympics’ by testing the champions of tomorrow.”

Earlier during the official draw ceremony, Mr. Asif ASKEROV, Vice-President of the Judo Federation of Azerbaijan, spoke to recall how his country was proud and happy to accommodate the judo family and all the foreign delegations: “Azerbaijan, since its independence, has largely focused on sport and youth. We have a tradition of welcome and hospitality that we have coupled with a desire to develop sports across the country. Thanks to a continuous development policy, coupled with high performance results as Elnur Mammadli’s Olympic title in Judo, we do hope that Baku will be the hosting city of 2020 Olympic Games. Having here, on the seashores of the Caspian Sea, a tournament of the size of the Judo Grand Prix, is more than an honor, it is a real duty for us to organize a successful event. “

In conclusion of the draw ceremony, Dr. Hedi DHOUIB, adviser of the President Vizer and IJF Executive Committee member, also highlighted the efforts of an entire people to promote sports and judo in particular, while wishing, on behalf of the IJF, good luck to all athletes, in accordance with the values of judo.

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Official Draw of the Competition:

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