On the eve of the Antalya Grand Slam 2023, we celebrate over 600 athletes coming together to compete at the last stop on the IJF World Tour before the greatly anticipated World Championships in Doha. The stunning coastal location of the event is inviting, locals going about their daily business, tourists arriving as the warmer months arrive, but what you don’t see is the devastation that struck the country less than two months ago.
With all sporting events cancelled, including the Antalya Cadet European Cup, the third edition of this grand slam event was granted given it’s Olympic qualification status, however the country is focussed on restructuring and helping it’s people after suffering great loss.
The Federation of Türkiye has also played a role in helping the judo family, of course there was simply no question that this would happen as the entire population has in some way contributed to helping their countrymen. In this catastrophe, 11 cities were effected with large areas raised to the ground, taking the lives of over 50,000 people and affecting more than 15 million.
Speaking to the President of the Turkish Judo Federation, Mr Sezer HUYSUZ, he explained that as an immediate response, the judo federation did their best to identify those in need, sending out aid to those who had lost everything, rehoming families and athletes, raising and securing money to help as many as possible relocate and rebuild their lives but of course these things; clothes, furniture, hygiene kits, can all be quick fixes.
Huysuz also explained just how closely this had impacted the judo family,
We lost a coach, family members are gone, parents, siblings, their whole lives were gone in an instant. We can help in many ways but for this, only time can heal.
Many who have lost their homes have been put in facilities set up by the government and rebuilding has already commenced to get people back in to a normal living situation, however the magnitude seems incomprehensible. During the interview with the president, it was clear how much judo has helped many families, not only by helping younger children stay active in sport and have something good in their lives amid the disaster, but the outpouring of help from the judo family. Judo – more than sport.
In the week following the earthquakes, the IJF in coordination with the Turkish Judo Federation decided to help the population in Southern Türkiye and northern Syria by activating its donation platform. Through the IJF Judo for Peace programme, many refugees fleeing civil war in Syria had been supported, integrating in to the Turkish population through judo and then a natural disaster took even more from them.
Following the Antalya Grand Slam, Media and Communication Director and Judo for Peace Head Director, Nicolas MESSNER will be travelling back to Kilis in Southern Türkiye along with Children’s Commission member, Leandra FREITAS. Since 2014, the programme has seen over 2000 children pass through and has been inclusive of young girls during this period. It has been reported that Kilis is one of the fortunate provinces to escape the direct impact of the earthquake but it is yet to see how the aftermath has taken its toll. Also joining the IJF team are Eurosport, a group will be travelling to see how the programme is helping the area as part of their ‘power of sport’ series.
Take a look at the great work from the Judo for Peace programme which has been implemented in this area.
Author: Thea Cowen