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Judo: János Tardos is confident

Date: February 25, 2024

Category: Judo

The city of Heidelberg hosted the first ever Paralympic Games back in 1972, a place known for hosting several para sport events since then and this weekend it was time for their annual VI judo tournament. IBSA Judo Chairman, Mr Janos Tardos reflects on the weekend as well as the past few years.

“I have been in Heidelberg a few times for the VI event and I must say then and now cannot be compared. I have huge respect for the local organising committee as they have been organising judo events not only for the blind and visually impaired but also for others with different disabilities. They have been running these events for decades and until recently, they did it from their own power, voluntarily. As of last year, we began to support them by pulling this event in as one of the qualifiers for Paris 2024, upgrading it to become a grand prix. They absolutely deserve it.

This weekend was a high standard. We can hope for even more athletes  in the future, however, I must commend the number of nations we have competing here, 47; we are very pleased with that.

There were a lot of changes since Tokyo 2020 including separating the blind and visually impaired judoka. This allowed the chances of all blind judoka to be even and upped the odds towards their Paris dreams. Today, 54% of our judoka are in the J1 category. With these changes, the number of participating countries as well as the overall number of judoka has grown significantly. For example, in Germany, before this weekend the highest number of entries was around 150. For this weekend we have received almost 250 entries.

With the support of the IJF, the running of these events has become more professional. Today, there are not many differences in the quality of organisation between an IJF grand prix and an IBSA grand prix. One of the key elements of this is having world class referees at our events. Again, this is due to us being able to invite referees from the IJF list.

We have seen significant growth in the judo skills of our athletes as well as coaches. Overall, the level of para judo has improved significantly in every aspect over recent years. This is also reflected in the number of medals per nation. In the past, the difference was significant between VI judoka and you could almost bet on the final outcome of the Paralympics. Today, it is very different; we have a competitive field and the outcome is unpredictable.

Ahead of Paris, we will not touch anything; the rules are set and that is what we are working with. However, for after the Paralympics, we have a lot of ideas, especially to open the competitive platform for the youth. We plan to do a junior VI world championships in the years to come.

Despite having only two qualifying events left, Mr Tardos and his team have busy months ahead of them. The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games will be the biggest sporting event ever organised in France. The event is scheduled to take place over a 12-day period, 28th August to 8th September 2024, bringing together thousands of the world’s most outstanding Paralympic athletes.

Sandra Szogedi/IJF
Photo credit: Ralf Kuckuck/DBS

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