Judo will be one of the leading attractions at the fourth edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, from Saturday 13 to Monday 15 May.
The World Judo Championships 2018 host city of Baku has already hosted its leg of the IJF World Judo Tour for 2017, a first-class Grand Slam in March, which followed a key IJF Referee and Coach seminar in January.
The land of fire is set to host the multi-sport event from 12 May to 22 May and athletes from the member nations of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation. Judo has proved to be the hottest ticket in town of all 20 sports as all tickets have already sold out.
Judo will have a prominent presence as Olympic and world medallists and world number ones will be among the judoka while Paralympic champions will compete in the visually impaired judo section.
The draw took place on Friday afternoon in athletes’ village on the eve of the competition and hours before the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.
Hosts Azerbaijan have picked a star-studded team which includes Olympic silver medallists Rustam ORUJOV, Elmar GASIMOV, world number Orkhan SAFAROV and teenage sensation Hidayat HEYDAROV who won the senior European Championships in April.
Uzbekistan’s Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Diyorbek UROZBOEV will see action while U.A.E’s former world bronze medallist Ivan REMARENCO, Iran’s Baku Grand Slam silver medallist Saeid MOLLAEI and Lebanon’s double Asian Championships silver medallist Nacif ELIAS will be among the top names in action.
Turkey’s women’s team could star with world number 15 and two-time Baku Grand Slam bronze medallist Busra KATIPOGLU installed as the number one seed at -63kg while former World Judo Masters bronze medallist Dilara LOKMANHEKIM moves up to make her -52kg debut and former European champion Kayra SAYIT will be tipped to dominate the +78kg proceedings.
Two-time Paralympic Games winner Ilham Zakiyev (AZE) won the European Games’ visually impaired heavyweight gold medal in 2015 at home to huge fanfare and those scenes could be replicated when the 37-year-old competes on Sunday.
Mr. Branislav CRNOGORAC, Judo Technical Delegate on behalf of the IJF, said: “Ladies and gentlemen, dear judo friends, dear judo family, welcome to Baku, welcome to the Islamic Solidarity Games. Welcome to our judo event, thank you for coming here to together celebrate this great event.
“Thanks to the IJF President Mr. Marius VIZER and the IJF for the strong support of this tournament and thank you to the organising committee who have prepared excellent conditions for the judoka and our sport. I wish you all good success and good luck and I thank you all.”
Mr. Janos TARDOS, Technical Delegate on behalf of IBSA Judo, said: “Hello everyone, thank you for all your support for IBSA Judo to be here, it really is a very proud moment for us. Thank you to the IJF and their staff for assisting us. Visually impaired judo is developing very fast and together we are represented in Baku alongside a fully sighted event as we was at the European Games 2015.
“I believe judo will be strong in this event and I ask all countries to send more visually impaired judoka to our events.”
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