After the IJF masters the Grand Prix of Zagreb will follow in August with lots of space for talent. The Grand Prix of Baku will give attention in September to the Azeri athletes who have retired and the Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi is always a strong event, let alone in this pre-olympic year. In December the Tour goes to Tokyo traditionally to end the season. We’re halfway the year but with ten events yet accomplished we can see the top athletes getting in shape and lining up for the Olympic Games next year July.Finally, a week ago, we were in Kazakhstan and this weekend are in Mongolia, from which the points now count for 100%. This last event of this first half of the season has kept all its promises.May and June saw the addition to the calendar of two new events, the Upper Austria and Dushanbe Grand Prix. It felt good to discover new destinations where judo is so popular.Saying that this first half of the year was intense is an understatement as the energy deployed at all levels was great. It all started in January in Portugal, with the first grand prix of the year. Then there was the legendary Paris Grand Slam and the spectacular Tel Aviv Grand Slam; two events that made fans happy in February.In May, all eyes were on the capital of Qatar, Doha, which organised the world championships for the first time in history. We weren’t disappointed by the level of competition which crowned 14 new world champions and it was not over, since we also had the mixed team competition.March was the month of Tashkent and Tbilisi, closely followed by Antalya, which, with more than 600 participants, gave an idea of the increasing participation as Paris 2024 approaches in less than 400 days.So far in the World Tour this year Japan is the most efficient country with 17 gold medals but also the team of Neutral Athletes gained momentum and they are still in a position to qualify if the IOC allows. Georgia is best of the rest with 9 titles in the IJF World Tour followed by Uzbekistan and Israel, in fact two still relatively new and strong judo countries.The Ulaanbaatar Grand Slam 2023 came to an end tonight with the final for men +100kg where the World Champion Tasoev again showed his efficiency, in this case in ne-waza. The next stop on the World Judo Tour will be in Budapest this summer, with the World Judo Masters taking place from 4th to 6th August in the Hungarian capital in 39 days.
Top athletes lining up for Paris halfway the season