This year may mark the 15th that Czech Judo have been hosting the European Open event, formerly known as a World Cup, however, the reality is that it has been running a great deal longer.
President of the Czech Judo Federation Pavel VOLEK gave us the background to this event that has been welcoming athletes for half a century.
The history of the Prague International tournament goes back to 1974 when we organized it for the first time. The popularity of the tournament has gradually grown and 15 years ago our application to organize the tournament as a part of the World Cup serial was approved. We have been successful in organizing the tournament on the level expected from us and thus have managed to attract many judo stars to Prague. I particularly remember the -63kg final in 2009 when we had the privilege to witness the then-reigning Olympic Champion Ayumi Tanimoto fighting against the future Olympic Champion Urska Zolnir Jugovar.
Though the federation takes great pleasure in the organisation of high performance tournaments, they don’t always come without great challenges,
Perhaps the greatest challenge for us was the 2021 tournament held under the strict anti-covid provisions. The event eventually turned out to be very successful – it was the first possibility to compete in almost one year for many athletes.
For those in the numerous federations organising the training and competition blocks for athletes, they will have noticed a change in the timing of this event, as Volek goes on to explain, though it has made little to no difference in terms of the participation.
We have changed the tournament date this year. Till 2022 the tournament was organized at the end of February or beginning of March. But this year, after a discussion with the EJU team, we have decided to hold it on September. We believe that also the autumn´s date is attracting for athletes and therefore we are going to welcome almost 500 judoka this year. I am also convinced that the location of Prague in the middle of Europe is our great advantage. We hope that this year´s tournament will be successful both for us and the European Judo Union.
Author: Thea Cowen