Aspiring Olympic judoka are looking forward to the possibility of training and competing in the sport’s place of origin during the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The International Olympic Committee chose the bustling capital of Japan over Madrid and Istanbul to host the Games for the first time since 1964.
The 2020 Games to be held in Tokyo will be Japan’s fourth Olympics, after the Summer Games in 1964 and Winter Games in 1972 and 1998. They will be held at the national Olympic Stadium, which was also the main venue for the 1964 Summer Games and a landmark of the country’s post-World War II recovery, but the venue will receive a radical makeover by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, transforming it into a futuristic, state-of-the-art 80,000-seat arena with a retractable roof, the first in the history of the Olympic Games.
Takeshi Kuikidome, head of the research centre for Sport Policy and Information for Japan Sport Council, who worked on the bid, said: “This is fantastic news. We have a new dream to aspire towards and this is a big opportunity to showcase sport in Japan and particularly judo in the spiritual home of the sport.”
Yoko Tanabe, a two-time Olympic Silver medallist for Japan who visited the UK recently, said: “We are very pleased that Tokyo has won this bid. For us it is a great honour to have the Olympics back in Japan – the spiritual home of judo. We are hoping to build our Olympic stadium by 2016, which was on the original site of the 1964 Olympics a year which was the first time Judo was included in the Games and George Kerr fought.”
The British Judo Association has close links with Japan, holding regular training sessions with GB athletes over there, but this will help to strengthen ties even further as the sport of Judo returns to its spiritual home. We asked two potential 2020 Olympians for 2020 for their views on Tokyo’s triumphant bid.
Sixteen year old Lubjana Piovesana who enjoyed recent success in the cadet world championships with a bronze medal is on track for selection at the 2020 Games.
She said: “With the 2020 Olympics being held in tokyo it has inspired me to train even harder as japan is the home of judo so to win a medal there will be even more special and now I know where the games are going to be held its making my olympic dream more real.’”
Meanwhile, Pete Miles, 17, has proved unstoppable this year with a medal in each and every competition since April, including World Cadet Championships bronze medal and a silver at the European Youth Olympic Festival. He is a strong Tokyo 2020 hopeful.
“I am extremely happy that the Olympics are being held in Tokyo,” said Pete. “With Japan being the home of judo, I am hoping that the publicity for the sport will increase after the games and lead to more people participating it in. Obviously the Japanese will be very strong at the event with a home advantage and crowds, but it is a great opportunity for all up and coming judokas to compete in Japan.”
Meanwhile, for Ashley McKenzie, who competed at London 2012 and hopes to go to Rio, Tokyo could perhaps be his third Games:
“I’m really happy that Tokyo has won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics as I regard Japan as the home of Judo. I frequently train and compete in Japan so if I qualify for the 2020 Olympics which I hope to do then at least I will be familiar with my surroundings,” he said.
The photo is an artists impression of the new stadium taken from a postcard courtesy of Japan Sport Council.
Words by Donna Richardson