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From Training to Refereeing, How Technology Has evolved and Could Aid athletes, Referees and Event Organisers
From Training to Refereeing, How Technology Has evolved and Could Aid athletes, Referees and Event Organisers
29 Mar 2021 13:00
IJF Ben Urban / International Judo Federation

Very few sports are left to stagnate. As times move forward, and new sportsmen and women enter onto the scene like in Tbilisi at the Grand Slam, these sports tend to exist in a state of near-constant evolution. In recent years, that evolution has demonstrated a propensity to bring sports into the clutches of the technological revolution like the video coverage in judo and ways of analysis.

Judo is evolving, not only within the sport, but also to transform judo and improve the circumstances for athletes, refereeing matters and event organisers such as video replays in the stadium. In a traditional sport like judo technology is hard to implement but video analysis is unbearable these days.

For some, this represents a major technological takeover, as in the case of online poker; the GGPoker Blog, for instance, is frequently updated with stories about the frontline of online poker, which has, arguably, grown into an entity that rivals the traditional, in-person iteration of the sport altogether.

For others, technology acts as more of a complement to activities that cannot be wholly removed from the real world; from horse racing to football, few sports now stand totally separate from technology.

And, while Judo has seen some progress in the realm of specialise technological innovation, there is plenty more to be done. Read more about its current and prospective impact on competitors, referees and organisers, below.


For judoka, one of the strongest ways in which technology can be utilised to great effect within the world of Judo is through the use of virtual reality, which is already being deployed across an incredibly wide variety of sports – particularly combat sports – to support player training and improvement. Will virtual relatiy be a new way of training methods, certainly in times of viruses. 

While its deployment differs drastically across different sports, those that centre on combat have found great success in utilising the technology to exercise not only the body, but also the mind. Combat sports rely heavily on mental preparedness, and that is something that solo exercise so often fail to cater to sufficiently. With virtual reality for combat sports, players can make full use of the immersive technology, and transport themselves into a ‘space’ for mental training, as well as a physical one.

IJF Referees

We are, at this point in time, no strangers to the use of technology in refereeing. It’s deployment has been reported on most ardently in the realm of rugby and football, where the sports utilise the Television Match Official (TMO) and Video Assistant Referee (VAR) respectively.

Still, the scope for utilising artificial intelligence and augmented reality within sports extends far beyond ball sports. In much the same way that it is deployed within these matches, judo referees can utilise advanced AI technology to analyse every moment of a competition in great deal, wherever that is necessary, in order to cut down on conflict – something which has long been an issue within the sport, and made Judo refereeing an unpopular job.

Already, the use of 360 degree cameras and replay systems ensure as much coverage as possible – both for the spectators, the competitors, and the referees – but, with the current climate for honing technology for use in specialised sports, we can anticipate many more changes on the horizon.

Event Organisers

For those with experience in running tournaments and ensuring fluidity for the day, you will know already how challenging it can be to ensure that everything runs smoothly. In some cases, and with increasing regularity, an integrated match management system is being utilised, whereby creating the pools, as well as assigning players to mats and combining the scores automatically can be achieved with relative ease and agility – thus ensuring that players, spectators, and tournament officials are able to focus on what matters.

For players, keeping on top of match scheduling can be extremely distracting, which is why focusing on making this system as efficient and effective as possible will prove so vital to the sport going forward.

More globally, we have seen the enormous difficulty of competing in this period of pandemic. It has a lot of merit to organise international tournaments and much more to train and participate in these competitions, with the current restrictions and technology might help exploring viruses at events.