London, IJF Press Release Dec 04, 2011: “The judo tournament of the London 2012 Olympic Games Judo will be an extraordinary worldwide event. All the ingredients for a great success are present. The organizing committee (LOCOG), assisted by the IJF technical team, that deploys a great organizational energy.
Wonderful heroes, who everyday strengthen a bit more the image of our sport by performing in each of the events on the World Judo Tour. Finally, the last ingredient, and not the least, which is the growing media interest for judo today. Yet there is still work to do to reach the standard we have been setting for the past four years at the world level.”
These are the words that the President of the International Judo Federation, Marius L. Vizer, used to conclude his British weekend, at the end of the Olympic test event held in the capital of the United Kingdom.
In less than eight months, we will know the new Olympic champions, men and women, and a new 4-year period will open on new developments for international judo. “After years of hard work, we still are at the beginning of the implementation of our project to give to judo its rightful place” repeats the President, Marius Vizer, who also stresses that “in London, a major effort still needs to be done to improve the broadcast standard for television, as well as the quality of the scoreboards, knowing that the system that will be used here is not the one we are used to monitor during our own events.
It is important to have large display screens in the venue, that will help the entire technical staff (LOCOG + IJF) to be more efficient, and that will give to our viewers the opportunity to follow action from different angles while benefiting from the slow-motion pictures. They will have the advantage of being in the venue and vibrate with our champions, while following the matches as if they were at home.”
Women’s -57kg Category-More Spectators
Mr. Vizer does not forget to remind that the 10,000 spectators capacity that will be offered during the Games, would certainly have reached 25 to 30,000 people, according to the excitement generated by judo in Europe. “With more consultation, we probably would have been able to optimize the number of spectators.
Today, we are not entirely sure that the audience will be the one we are used to during all our events and we do not know exactly who will be in the tribunes. Reaching new spectators is important and necessary, but today the demand is such that we are probably below what we could have proposed.”
About 10 million tickets were sold for the London Games and the ratio of locals / foreign visitors is around 75/25%. President Vizer says it would be interesting in the future to reverse this ratio: “A simple calculation reveals that 75% of foreign visitors spending an average of US$1500, over the duration of the Games, with a total of 10 million tickets sold, would generate US$11,25 billion of revenue. It would be a determining factor for the promotion of the Olympic Games throughout the world, a development tool for the culture and the values of the host country and a significant boost to the economy.”
Men’s -73kg Category-Like a First Day!
“This test event is like the first day of the Olympic Games”, the statement is strong and it is signed by Vladimir Barta, IJF Head Sports Director, who, during the games, will serve the position of Technical Director together with Juan Carlos Barcos (IJF Head Refereeing Director).
Beyond the words, one must see the interest to organize such a ‘rehearsal’. “During the Games, we have no room for any mistake and everything must work perfectly from the first match on, as soon as the lights come on. So, to have the opportunity to test everything and tune everything is a luxury that can not be refused”, underlined Vladimir Barta.
For several months, the IJF and the LOCOG have been meeting on a regular basis. Thus, No fewer than 10 meetings have been held, including three in London, the other seven around the world. And it’s not over. “Under the leadership of Lisa Allan (head of judo for LOCOG), the cooperation is effective and we are doing a very professional work, all in a friendly atmosphere” said Barta, before adding: “It’s important because, in recent years, many changes have been brought to judo at the very high level and we have still a lot to do. “
Women’s -70kg Category-Constantly Changing
Since the Beijing Olympics, in 2008, the world of judo has profoundly changed and evolved : the system of competition, the procedure for qualifying, the seeding procedure or the colors of the mats are some of the areas that were reviewed. The running of the final block will also be different in London, since all the repechage, the semi-finals, the repechage finals, the bronze medals matches and the finals will take place on a single mat, so that everybody will be able to follow the most important fights, the fights that can change a life.
Men’s -90kg Podium-A scent of Olympism
Far away from the excitement of the Games, when the time to award the supreme title will come, next July and August, during two days, a scent of Olympism was flying over the two yellow and red mats of the Excel complex, in the neighborhood of London’s Royal Docks. And even if the sport dimension was limited since no qualifying point were awarded, the hundred judoka from 23 countries were keen to defend the colors of their delegation (see results below).
Who better than Lisa Allan, head of judo for LOCOG, to tell us about the fever that rises every day a little more? “This is fantastic. With the test event, this weekend, I really feel that we have entered into the reality of the Games. All the work that our teams have been doing for months, and all the meetings that we have been organizing, all the IJF competitions that I have been going to in order to soak the IJF project for judo, all the plans that we have designed … are coming together today. From the very beginning, the cooperation with the International Federation has been excellent and we all know that we have to work together to organize the best tournament in the history of judo at the Olympic Games. I am confident and I am fortunate to have a dynamic and effective group of people, a team that does not count the hours to reach the summits.”
Lisa Allan, whose father was coach of the British judo team, during the Los Angeles Games in 1984, has been rocked by the melody of judo from her earliest childhood. She is now the head of a small team of three full-time professionals, who will be reinforced by 7 contractors and 140 volunteers next year, while the “Young Games Maker Program”, with the support of the British Judo Association, will bring 72 young people to make the team even more efficient.
“Judo is my sport, judo is my life, it gave me opportunities and now, with my team, we have the opportunity to participate in an adventure where we can give back to judo what it offered us.” It is with these words of enthusiasm and passion from Lisa Allan, that the test event in London has come to an end, the next Olympic appointment being in July 2012. In the meantime, the international judo will still be often under the spotlight, like next week in Tokyo for the last Grand Slam of the season, which will be followed by the last Judo Grand Prix, Qingdao 2011 (China).
Final Results-Women’s -57kg
1. ELLIOT, Shirley (FRA), 2. HIRAI, Nozomi (JPN), 3. COX, Sophie (GBR), 3. GJAKOVA, Nora (IJF)
5. INGLIS, Stephanie (GBR), 5. QUADROS, Ketleyn (BRA), 7. SZOGEDI, Szandra (GHA), 7. DENOO, Lotte (BEL)
1. MENDONCA, Bruno (BRA), 2. VANLIOGLU, Hasan (TUR), 3. SCOLLO, Gesualdo (ITA), 3. DUBSKY, David (CZE)
5. WANDTKE, Igor (GER), 5. BADRIASHVILI, Sergey (RUS), 7. LAAMANEN, Eetu (FIN), 7. GOSIEWSKI, Jan (GBR)
1. PORTELA, Maria (BRA), 2. CONWAY, Sally (GBR)
3. HABRICOT, Clarisse (FRA)
3. IMAI, Yuko (JPN)
5. VARGAS KOCH, Laura (GER)
5. BERGER, Karine (FRA)
7. FLETCHER, Megan (GBR)
7. CANTONI, Giulia (ITA)
1. PESSANHA, Hugo (BRA)
2. MAGOMEDOV, Kamil (RUS)
3. PURSSEY, Matthew (GBR)
3. YAMAMOTO, Norihide (JPN)
5. RUIZ ZAJAC, David (ESP)
5. GUTSCHE, Yannick (GER)
7. LOPORCHIO, Giuliano (ITA)
7. DVARBY, Joakim (SWE)
Photos © Tamas Zahonyi