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IJF World Tour expands in 2018 with new events
12 Jan 2018 10:05
The IJF World Tour continues in 2018 starting with the first Grand Prix in Tunis, although before the revolution Tunisia already had a Grand Prix in 2009 and 2010. Also Agadir will have a Grand Prix in March and the Grand Slam of Tokyo will now be held in Osaka. There's a total of 17 competitions throughout the year, including the World Championships in Baku.
Having so many international competitions is a good thing for athletes hoping to gain valuable Olympic qualification points. It's also good for those up-and-coming athletes who just want to get experience for the future.
There was a time in the 80s and early 90s when there were only a handful of top competitions in a year. Back then the World Championships was not an annual affair but once every two years. There was no IJF World Tour (no Grand Slams or Grand Prix). There was the Tournoi de Paris which later became the Paris Grand Slam, and the Kano Cup which later became the Tokyo Grand Slam. Women had the Fukuoka Cup. And college students had the Shoriki Cup. But little else by way of big international competitions.
That's why when you look at the track records of top players then and compare it with the top players now, you'll notice how few competitions older champions took part in. There just weren't a lot of competitions for them back then.
So, for the competitors, having all these competitions (17 World Tour events is a record... there's now going to be at least one IJF event per month throughout the whole year) is a good thing. They are spoiled for choice. If they can't make the one in January, they can go for the one in February, or March, or April, and so on. In a year, they can get enough competitions to gain the necessary experience or points (depending on their objective).
For viewers, overall it's a good thing as there's more judo to watch. But the one downside in having so many competitions is that players will spread themselves out throughout the year and as a result, you will not have that many competitions where you can find all the top players there.
Back when there were only a few top competitions a year, All the top players would be there. Tournoi de Paris, Kano Cup -- you can expect the World's best to be participating. Nowadays, even at the Paris Grand Slam and Tokyo Grand Slam, there would be top players missing, what more the lower level competitions like the Grand Prix.
And if you look at competitions that will happen right after the World Championships in September, such as the Tashkent Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Slam (both in October), you can be sure there will be very few top judo stars competing. So, such events will not be so exciting for the viewers.
Everybody wants to see Tushishvili or Krpalek fight Riner but will they all be at the same competitions? Unlikely. It's reasonable to expect Riner to compete in the Paris Grand Slam and for the other two to be there but Riner's missed the Paris Grand Slam before so we can't be sure he'll be there. The only competition where we can be sure these guys will all be there is the World Championships.
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