29 May 2024



Judo is a very popular and successful sport in Azerbaijan, with a rich history and numerous national and international successes. Recently, the National Judo Federation of Azerbaijan has shown interest in developing the sport outside of shiai. In recent months, the nation has organised its first ever national kata championships. There is more… Adapted judo, which tailors the sport to meet the needs of individuals with various disabilities, has also gained ground in Azerbaijan.

Mr Orkhan Orujzade, Education Manager of the Azerbaijani Judo Federation unfolded the ‘how’s’ and ‘when’s: 

When we became acquainted with the values of judo, we realised that people with disabilities and children had been overlooked throughout the history and development of Azerbaijani judo. Recent initiatives in our country aimed at fostering an inclusive society have inspired us, as members of the judo community, to focus on this area.

Our involvement in the adapted judo event held in Venray last November provided substantial motivation to introduce adapted judo in Azerbaijan. Discussions with parents of children with Down syndrome and autism revealed significant interest in this initiative.

Encouraged by this response, we decided to intensify our efforts starting in June. The backing from numerous private and public enterprises has been instrumental in establishing adapted judo in Azerbaijan. Notably, BP Azerbaijan has played a crucial role in this regard.

To implement adaptive judo successfully, we are diligently studying the approaches of various countries. To enhance our coaches’ expertise in this field, we facilitate their participation in training programs organised by the European Judo Union. This year, our project’s activities have expanded to include seminars and conferences on adapted judo.

Mr. Orujzade alongside coaches, Rufat Ismayilov and Samir Ismayilov attended at the most recent EJU Adapted Judo Seminar in Paris: 

Both last year’s adapted judo event in Venray, Netherlands, and this year in Paris are very educational and motivating for us. Implementing any innovation is a particularly stressful process. We believe that the event in Paris served as a beacon for our plans and dreams. It is invaluable to receive special attention and a supportive attitude in the meetings we have had and in our communications with adapted judo experts.

The treatment of disabled people varies considerably from country to country. In Azerbaijan, there appears to be a more favourable environment for these individuals. Mr. Orujzade further explains;

In Azerbaijan, significant measures are being taken to provide comprehensive state care for persons with disabilities, and their financial support is being strengthened year by year. Additionally, legislation on labor and employment offers extra guarantees that demonstrate a highly humane approach to the disabled. Alongside state policy, the Azerbaijani people have maintained positive and inclusive social attitudes towards people with disabilities for many years. Social protection of persons with disabilities, as well as creating conditions for their participation in all areas of public life and leading a decent life, is one of the main directions of our state’s social policy. This is reflected both in the constitution of our country and in our national traditions.

Now, Judo is considered one of the popular sports in Azerbaijan. The achievements of Azerbaijani athletes in continental and world championships, including the Olympics over different years, have made this sport even more popular. This popularity has sparked interest among children, including those with disabilities. However, the current situation is unfavourable for them, leaving their dreams about this sport unfulfilled. Therefore, making judo accessible to everyone, reflecting its important values, is our most crucial goal for these activities.

The team is currently in Velika Gorica, Croatia, in advance of the inaugural EJU Get Together event, where they will be enhancing their knowledge. Their dedication to the development of adapted judo in Azerbaijan also reflects the country’s commitment to inclusive sports and the empowerment of individuals with disabilities. The support of national and international organisations, specialised training programmes and grassroots initiatives has enabled adapted judo to become an integral part of Azerbaijan’s sports landscape. Continued efforts to enhance accessibility, funding, and awareness will further accelerate the growth and success of adapted judo in the country.

Author: Szandra Szogedi