Just a couple of weeks after the Olympic Games have ended, Envic Galea, President of the Malta Judo Federation, returned to RIO for the Paralympics – this time as the Liaison between the International Judo Federation (IJF) and the International Blind Judo Association (IBSA) This is the first time that the IJF sent a representative of the IJF at the Paralympic Games.
Paralympic judo follows the same rules as Olympic judo, with the difference that judokas shall start and remain during the combat holding each other’s suits. Only athletes with visual impairment are eligible to compete, with all the sight classes (B1, B2 and B3) competing together and divided according to the judokas’ weight. Combats last five minutes for men and four for women. The aim is to either gain more points than the rival by skilful attacks or score the “ippon” by throwing the opponent with their back on the ground, immobilising them or forcing a submission.
Judo made its Paralympic debut at Seoul 1988 and has been contested at every Games since. Women’s events were added at Athens 2004. The sport is the only martial art on the programme. At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games there were seven different male weight divisions: -60kg, -66kg, -73kg, -81kg, -90kg, -100kg and +100kg; and six female weight divisions: -48kg, -52kg, 57kg, -63kg, -70kg and +70kg. Athletes compete in a series of tournaments along the year, including World Cups, and World and regional Championships. At the Rio Games there were 129 athletes from 36 countries.
Two years ago the IJF and IBSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding for closer collaboration. IBSA Judo was going through some difficult times and Mr Marius Vizer appointed Envic Galea to help IBSA modernise their Judo and bring Visually Impaired (VI) Judo on the same levels as IJF.
The International Paralympic Committee are now very happy with how Visually Impaired Judo has progressed. During the Games, Envic Galea held a meeting with Jennie Hammershoi, president of IBSA, Norbert Biro Chairman IBSA Judo, Torsten Undemar SPORT director IBSA and Janos Tardos Sport Director IBSA Judo. The subject was the way forward to Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and how IJF and IBSA can collaborate further.