The IJF has been busy the last few months. They have finalized the new rules going into 2018 that will be in effect for the 2020 Olympic Games Qualification process. You can find some of the new rules below:
- You can’t straighten the leg when doing a choke
- Defined leg grabbing that is allowed
- Defined leg grabbing not allowed
- Golden Score Rules have been updated
- Osaekomi updated & defined
- 2 scores end a fight now or Ippon
- Spinning out on your head will result in a direct disqualification
With all of these rule changes happening every quad the IJF seems to be pushing for Judo to become more of a mainstream sport. Whether you agree or disagree with the rule changes we can all agree that when it comes to the martial arts, judo is undoubtedly the most professionally run especially in the last 10 years. As an athlete I learned real quick that there was no sense in arguing or being upset with the rule changes and if I focused on just being offensive and winning, then they wouldn’t really affect me. There is obviously going to be a learning curve for everyone but the champions will still be champions in a year’s times.
We can really see the professionalized movement the IJF has been making with the World Championships next year giving out $1 million dollars in prize money. Even this weekend there was an event call the World Open Championships held in Marrakech!
The part I personally struggle with is the IJF allowing tournaments being hosted in countries that do not allow other nations to compete in. In the past few years there have been many instances where athletes have had issues getting visas or even being detained because of what country their passport says they live in. We’re not talking about some Continental Open that doesn’t play a big role in the Olympic Qualifications, I’m talking about competitions such as the World Masters, Grand Slams, even the new World Open Event in Marrakech! It made world news when the Israeli team was detained at the airport at the World Masters in Morocco, or the Israeli Team not being able to compete for their country at the Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi because they personally do not recognize them as a country.
Judo and the Olympic Movement is supposed to be above politics and we NEED to stand behind our fellow athletes. When it comes down to it, we all understand the sacrifice and dedication our fellow judoka have made to accomplish their dreams. Why does the IJF choose to continue to hold such important Olympic Qualifying events in places that make it almost impossible for some athletes to compete to the best of their ability? This is a question we should all be asking ourselves as judoka. If the IJF is not going to provide a field of play that is fair across the board for all countries involved, maybe it’s time for the athletes to stand together and not attend events like the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam or World Masters in Morocco? Overall I’m all for where the IJF is taking the sport but at the same time it can’t just be about the money! We have to maintain our integrity as judoka and as a premier Olympic Sport.