Montreal, September 1, 2020 – As of September 2, Canada’s judokas will be able to resume competitive training at Judo Canada’s National Training Centre in Montreal. Isabelle Charest, the minister for education for the government of Quebec, made the announcement on Tuesday from the dojo of the Institut national du sport du Québec.
The public health department has unveiled the next phase in the easing of restrictions on combat sports. Starting Wednesday, it will allow sustained contact for small groups of up to four people during training matches and directly associated warm-ups. However, the physical distance of two metres must be maintained at all other times during training sessions.
“This is very good news. It will provide a big motivational boost to our athletes, who have found the past few months quite difficult,” stated Nicolas Gill, CEO and High Performance Director of Judo Canada. “We’re very happy that the centre is reopening. This announcement has come a little sooner than we expected, which bodes well for the future.”
Starting immediately, Judo Canada will work closely with the INS Québec to ensure all is ready for the athletes’ return to the dojo. Procedures will be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to a minimum. Gill is also looking forward to the next steps in the easing of restrictions.
“Given the current context, this is a big step, but it still won’t be enough to prepare our athletes for the Olympics,” he added, explaining that in comparison to other parts of the world, we’re still quite far behind.
A group of judokas who are close to qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games is currently attending a third training camp in Lethbridge, Alberta until September 18. Judo Canada selected this location for competitive training in order to comply with Quebec’s health guidelines. The athletes are preparing for the restart of international competition, which is scheduled for the end of October.
“We’re definitely looking forward to being able to train at the INS Québec, which is like a second home to us,” affirmed Antoine Valois-Fortier. “We can feel that things are starting to move, and knowing that combat sports are going ahead is motivating for all of us.”
“Working in groups of four will be a definite advantage. Of course, it’s not ideal because in judo, the more partners you have, the better, but it’s a great first step,” he added.
The INS Québec complex is the ideal location for the judokas to resume full training. They have been using its weight training facilities since its partial reopening on June 15.
The members of the national judo team will therefore be able to train in Montreal in preparation for the final Tokyo Olympic qualifiers, which have been on hold since last March.