11 February 2023


Sofia European Open 2023

Events in the EJU calendar started with the OTC in Mittersill at the beginning of January 2023, but in a way this is the official kick-off as the first tournament is being held in Sofia this weekend. The European Judo Tour looks super fresh and asking for more, athletes from around the world have gathered in the popular Asics Arena. Of course, given that it is the first of the senior events in the calendar, EJU President Dr László TÓTH was present to celebrate with the delegation and the team.

EJU President Dr László TÓTH and BJF President Rumen STOILOV © Kostadin ANDONOV (EJU)

Yes, this is first big event in our European Judo Tour, Sofia European Open 2023. I’m very glad and very proud that 43 countries and 399 competitors are participating at this event. This is a very beautiful renovated sport hall and this quality of the competitors who started their qualification for the Olympic Games it is a huge number and I’m very very happy that EJU can host this excellent event together with the Bulgarian Judo Federation. Here in Sofia we have 28 referees and 8 them are from the Pan-American and Asian continents, this is our policy, we opened our door, we kindly invited not only competitors but also the referees. I’m really happy together here with President Stoilov as I see the development of our tournament. This competition shows power of our organisation and gives a chance for several countries, several competitors to collect point for Olympic qualification. I hope this European Judo Tour will continue at such a high level. I’ve seen today so many very talented young competitors and I’m sure that the medals that they will win today and tomorrow will be important for their careers.

How high quality and attractive the European Judo Tour has become is evident, and now we can witness athletes competing from Madagascar, Guam or even El Salvador.

The date was very excellent, after the Paris tournament there was a three-day training camp and many countries, not only from Europe, could travel towards Sofia to our tournament afterwards. This is real politics, with a special strategy. We try to organise events and connect the dates to try and save the federations money in regards to travel costs.

Last year the Bulgarian Judo Federation successfully organised the senior European Championships, also in Sofia. Trust and responsibility has been given to the Bulgarian Judo Federation and they have proven to be an important partner of the European Judo Union.

Last year the senior European Championships was our flagship event in 2022 and it was very successful. We have a very strong relationship with the Bulgarian Judo Federation, the President of Federation is also member of EJU President’s Advisory Board. Last year in December at our Congress in Ljubljana we decided that we will continue with European Championships in Bulgaria and I’m very glad to inform you that next year they will host the Cadet European Championships, which is one of the most important European Championships. How important this particular tournament is was shown by the fact we had six candidates who made a bid to organise the event. We decided it will be in Bulgaria, I have a very good connection with Bulgarian Judo, with all heroes, past and present and leaders. The Bulgarian Judo Federation had presidency elections and Rumen Stoilov was re-elected for the next five years. Also I’m very glad and happy about this super atmosphere, yes we have lot of spectators. We all know sometimes we have well organised events but when you don’t have fans it looks sad. Today we have all!

Author: Mario Krvavac