4 December 2021


EJU Ordinary Congress


With an opening welcome from President Sergey Soloveychik, the 73rd Ordinary Congress of the European Judo Union began today in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Mr Soloveychik expressed his great appreciation to all of the federations knowing how difficult the pandemic period has been for all of mankind and our judo family. He went on to explain that the inability to continue our education projects will have affected the judo community most of all on all levels, though graciously thanked those that had managed to continue in reduced capacity. 

Thank you to all of the countries who have helped to continue the judo events, I am very proud of  you all as well as our beautiful team and hard workers. We have been one family in this crisis.

Initially the newly elected presidents were announced including; Rashad Nabiyev (AZE), Sebastien Bonte (BEL), Lovrencij Galuf (SLO), Esa Niemi (FIN), Kaido Kaljulaid (EST), Ivan Kaufman (LIE) and Dimitrios Michailidis (GRE). 


Conducting the opening presentation for the congress was General Treasurer, Dr Laszlo Toth who discussed financial matters. Of course the talk began with the affect Covid-19 had had on the EJU and the national federations, but was positive in his conclusion as the union had managed to remain stable throughout despite the absence of events. 

Dr Laszlo Toth. © Carlos Ferreira

Dr Toth stated that the EJU were the first continental union to host their continental championships following the break from competition and since then it has been a steady climb back to normality. He was also pleased to announce the increase of sponsors since the pandemic with new contracts in place to support the national federations, not only during this period but following the pandemic.  


EJU Vice President, Mr Michal Vachun then discussed the sport sector. Thanks was repeated for the countries that had hosted events this year, and with two more to go in France and Prague, well wishes were granted. Mr Vachun was pleased to state that both cadets and juniors were able to come back for continental championships following the senior events with great ambition for 2022 to fill the calendar once again. The continental and world championships locations have all been decided aside from the junior worlds; Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic and France will be the hosts. 

Mr Michal Vachun. © Carlos Ferreira

Attention was drawn to the success of the European Judo Union in the Tokyo Olympic Games, demonstrating the increasing amount of medals taken by the continent; 34 medals from 17 nations were awarded in the individual and mixed team event, a record number even without the team achievements.


Refereeing was covered by the Refereeing Director Mr Alexandr Jatskevitch. He placed importance on the education of referees as they prepare some for the IJF events but also stated there is equal importance placed upon the feedback of referees from EJU events so that there is a continuous loop of improvement. There is a hope to once again host a refereeing and coaching seminar in March 2022. 

Mr Alexandr Jatskevitch. © Gabi Juan

New aspects for the refereeing department are the introduction of a ‘referee online test’ which can be found on the EJU website, this is not only for referees but for the wider community to test their judo knowledge. Another mission is to work with the national federations to conduct refereeing seminars hosted by the EJU referee commission, with the idea to combine this with national championships and marry practice with feedback. 


As Laurent Commanay had stepped down from his position, the Executive Committee proposed that EJU Scientific Commissioner, Yves Cadot took the EJU Education Director post. As there was no disapproval from the national federations, his position was confirmed. 

Leading the education presentation was Vice President Jane Bridge,

First of all, a few words to remind us all that Jigoro Kano created judo primarily as an education tool which has since also become a worldwide global sport. As you know out EJU motto is ‘judo more than sport’, but we like to think of it not just as a slogan but a vision.

We believe judo is not just for elite performance, it’s also important for the young, old, the different, to practice judo. We believe that the benefits derived from practicing judo contribute to building better people.

Ms Jane Bridge. © Gabi Juan

Highlighting the events in the upcoming year, the vice president stated that special needs would be officially included in the Kata European Championships 2022 for the first time as well as the continuation of juniors. There are plans in place for a Kata summer camp, seminar tour, online judge seminars and further IJF collaboration. 

The community from high performance to children look forward to the annual EJU Judo Festival and can now once again be excited that it will return to Porec in 2022, with the further inclusion of an education seminar. 

As the education department is such a focal point of the EJU, there were many more updates including website updates for the science library and completely separate sites for the Judo Schools League and Judo Youth League which combined cater to children aged seven to fifteen years old. The Improve Your Club seminars have now widened their reach and will specialise, not only aiming at club coaches with developing younger generations but also kata and special needs. 


Returning to the EJU in 2020 was IpponGear founder, Vice President Mr Otto Kneitinger. Today, following an intense year he gave a presentation to congress regarding the difficulties faced following the onset of the pandemic and how the EJU have put in place measures to ensure a full recovery and be able to help the federations more than before. 

Mr Otto Kneitinger. © Gabi Juan

A ‘rescue umbrella’ was set up to help protect both the national federations as well as the EJU partners. As hosting events is very costly for national federations, the first hurdle was to reduce these costs while still supporting the partners, and so a 10% decrease was the aim. A conversation with the partners was agreed, so that 100% of their sponsorship goes to the federations. New contracts have been drawn up with major players in the field including IHG, Hilton and Marriott which will be a huge support for accommodation during events and the discount can be used outside of events as well. 

The ultimate goal is to improve event services, making the process easier and more financially viable for federations. By making these savings, also within the EJU, more support can be given to the federations in terms of children’s projects, OTC’s etc. To make this even easier, there is an EJU ‘Market Place’ currently in the works to use the partner deals all in one place. 

“It is a great pleasure to be back home again.”

Once the sectors had presented their findings and proposed future endeavours, the IJF President, Mr Marius Vizer stood to address the congress. He first began by saying how much of a pleasure it was to be ‘back home’ again as the previous EJU president.

IJF President, Mr Marius Vizer. © Gabi Juan

Mr Vizer continued by congratulating Mr Soloveychik and his team as well as the national federations, on their work behind the scenes and of course, the incredible Olympic results. There was celebration as Europe took the first ever Olympic mixed team title with special thanks to the amazing French team. Solidarity was spoken of in judo, that it is the power of our sport which has been reflected in this most trying time since 2020. 

I am always with you, even when I don’t stand beside you. I wish you good health, all the best and good luck in the future.

Following the conclusion of Mr Vizer’s speech, there was a special honour awarded to Mr Richard Galea Debono, an Appreciation Award for this position as a legal consultant for the European Judo Union.

Mr Sergey Soloveychik and Mr Richard Galea Debono. © Gabi Juan

The final point was the relocation of the EJU, as previously the registration was in Malta and has now been agreed that it shall move to Austria. Leading the congress was EJU Director of Head Office and president of the Austrian Judo Federation, Mr Martin Poiger and so it was apt that he should ask announce the confirmation of the move following no disputes from the other national federations. 

It was a successful congress, and concluded by the EJU president.

Author: Thea Cowen