31 August 2023


Olympic test event in Paris


The INTERNATIONAL JUDO FEDERATION (IJF) and the PARIS 2024 ORGANISING COMMITTEE rehearse for two days. 60 national judoka and 8 IJF judges have been deployed to the CHAMP DE MARS ARENA. The Eiffel Tower can still be admired directly from the mat. Next year, during Games Time, all the windows will be darkened and stands will be erected for a total of 8,356 people. The outdoor tents and the warm-up area are also not yet available on an Olympic scale. Head coach Yvonne Snir-Bönisch is taking the opportunity to get a taste of the Olympic atmosphere for Judo Austria. The 2004 Olympic champion talks about…

… her first impression of the Olympic Hall: “It’s love at first sight (laughs). The view of the Eiffel Tower is really breathtaking. Even though there won’t be this view – from the mat, the landmark within reach – at the Olympics. The grandstands will be there and the mat will be bathed in spotlights, just like on TV. Daylight is not allowed. Anything else would not be suitable for the Olympic Broadcasting Service. Today, of course, everything is still going on without nervousness and hectic fuss. The IJF and the French organisers are professionals. Next year, from 27 July to 3 August 2024, the atmosphere will naturally be more tense. What I like: The hall seems huge, all areas are generously laid out. The set-up is absolutely Olympic-worthy, even more so when the grandstands and the outdoor tents are added.”

… the exchange with other nations: “Of course, I am not the only one who uses this test event for a short visit to Paris to get first impressions. Team GB has arrived with a delegation of nine, led by women’s head coach Jamie Johnson. The Japanese have fielded Keiji Suzuka.”

… the course of the test event: “You have to think of it as a test run with all possible scenarios. From an athlete not showing up on time to time delays, technical failures to medical emergencies. Everything is rehearsed in order to be prepared for an emergency. Each French judoka fighting here today has been assigned to a nation. Playing the Austrian (in the up to 73 kg category) is an 18-year-old junior athlete whose first name is Zian. He has been seeded number 3. Hopefully this is a good omen for next year…”

… Host France: “Every judoka loves the Grand Slam tournament in Bercy, I count myself among them. You won’t find this exuberant, euphoric atmosphere anywhere else in the world – from the beginning of the preliminary round to the last final match. I hope for the same flair (by judo standards) in the Champ de Mars Arena during the Games.”

… the sporting expectations from a European and Austrian point of view: “Generally speaking, we Europeans should make use of the home advantage on Parisian soil, but the bar from Tokyo is very high with a total of 35 medals – 6 of them in gold. Our ambition must be to do better than in 2021. The (European) results at the Masters in Jerusalem have been promising lately. As for Judo Austria: Austria has also set the bar very high in Tokyo – with silver for Michaela Polleres (- 70) and bronze for Shamil Borchashvili (- 81). That was the best result for Austria in almost four decades. We hope for six individual starters like in Tokyo and – if things go well – also with the qualification for the mixed team event. We are aiming for a medal, and if we win two, it would be an absolute stroke of luck. Michaela Polleres, Shamil and Wachid Borchashvili as well as Aaron Fara currently have what it takes for a podium finish.”

Author: EJU Media