Olympics preview: Judo comes home

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 23, 2021
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Nikoloz Sherazadishvili (top) of Spain competes with Davlat Bobonov of Uzbekistan during the Men's -90kg final of the World Judo Championships 2021 in Budapest, Hungary on June 10, 2021. (Photo by Attila Volgyi/Xinhua)

Created in 1882 by Jigoro Kano of Japan as a physical, mental, and moral pedagogy, judo was first contested as an Olympic sport in the 1964 Games in Tokyo. 57 years later, judo is coming back to its birthplace, Japan.

From July 24 to 31, 393 judokas will compete in 15 events (seven categories each for women and men, as well as a newly-added mixed team).

Japan has been a powerhouse of the sport for all time. At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the top three on the medal table are Japan, France and Russia. Japan won three golds, one silver and eight bronzes, France earned two golds, two silvers and one bronze while Russia collected two golds and one bronze.

After the Rio Olympics, Japan set up a new center to advance its athletes' all-round capabilities, and pushed forward a "Tokyo Olympics Key Sports" project. This led to a 30 percent year-on-year increase of budget in 2019 for Japan's medal hopeful sports - karate, judo, gymnastics, badminton and wrestling.

Thanks to the project, Japan dominated the medal table with five golds, four silvers and two bronzes at the 2021 Judo World Championships. This year as the host country, Japan has reserved a spot in each of all 15 events, including Olympic champion Shohei Ono in men's -73kg, world champions such as Uta Abe in women's -52kg, Chizuru Arai in women's -70kg, Naohisa Takato in men's -60kg, Hifumi Abe in men's -66kg and Aaron Wolf in men's -100kg.

Apart from Japan, European countries such as France, Russia and Italy are capable of winning at least one title. Cuba, the United States, Brazil and South Korea are also aiming for a gold medal.

China sent six female judokas to the Tokyo Olympic Games to compete in the women's -48kg, -57kg, -63kg, -70kg, -78kg and +78kg categories. Among them, Yang Junxia was ranked 7th in the 2016 Rio Olympic, but others are all Olympic debutants.

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