The success of last month’s Grand Slam Hungary in Budapest has left judo fans chomping at the bit for their next slice of elite competition. They are hoping that they will not have to wait long, with confirmation as to the fate of the postponed Zagreb Grand Prix expected soon.
The event in Croatia was originally scheduled to take place from 18–20 September 2020 and would therefore have marked judo’s return to competition following the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Those plans nonetheless fell victim to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the Grand Prix was postponed.
However, unlike the Olympics – whose opening ceremony will now not take place until 23 July 2021 – the Zagreb Grand Prix does provisionally remain on the IJF calendar for 2020. Following a successful return to action in October, it is hoped that the World Judo Tour will be able to reconvene in Croatia before the end of the year.
Traditionally held in late July or early August, the Zagreb Grand Prix has a reputation for attracting the finest judoka from around the world. In non-Olympic years, it is seen as an important marker for the World Championships and both of its previous two editions saw over 550 male and female athletes competing across a full range of weight categories.
In recent years, the podiums at the event have been dominated by Japanese athletes. Two years ago, the Japanese team topped the medal table with three golds and an impressive ten medals overall, over twice as many as their nearest challengers, France. The island nation repeated the trick in 2019, taking home four golds and four silver medals.
Confirmation as to whether the Zagreb Grand Prix 2020 will go ahead is expected over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the next confirmed event on the World Judo Tour calendar is the World Judo Masters, which will take place from 11–13 January 2021 in Doha in Qatar.