Montreal, June 18, 2019 – When the IJF (International Judo Federation) granted Montreal the right to host one stage of the Grand Prix Circuit last fall, Judo Canada was very excited at the idea to welcome over 450 athletes coming from 60 countries. They had to act quickly though, because finding enough funding for such an event in less than a year is a short deadline.
“It’s coming up fast and we are very excited! It has been a long time since the circuit was in North America,” said Mike Tamura, President of Judo Canada.
Sport Canada, the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur, the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation, the Ministère du Tourisme, des Langues officielles et de la Francophonie, the city of Montreal, Tourisme Montréal and the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec have accepted Judo Canada’s invitation to support the organization of the event with a quick turnaround.
“Hosting an international sport event, regardless of the sport, is expensive. Without the support of Sport Canada, the federal and provincial governments, and the city of Montreal, we wouldn’t have been able to put this event together. We are grateful for the support allowing us to host an IJF Grand Prix for the first time ever in Canada.”
When becoming the CEO and High Performance Director of Judo Canada, Nicolas Gill wanted to “boost the competition calendar.” The former athlete admits things happened faster than anticipated; it was first thought a Grand Prix would be hosted in Canada for the 2024 Games Olympic cycle.
The last stretch before the Tokyo Olympic Games was already looking very busy for Judo Canada, but after the withdrawal of certain events on the international calendar, the national federation decided to grab this opportunity and take up the challenge of hosting a Grand Prix in Montreal.
“The opportunity presented itself and, of course, our goodwill and efforts would mean nothing without the partnership with the three levels of government. They are essential to host such events.”
The decision of hosting the Canadian stage of the international circuit in Montreal might have to do with the fact that the national training centre is located in the city.
“The partnership we have with the city of Montreal and the government of Quebec for everything we do for high-level judokas is incredible!” said Mike Tamura. “There’s also the Institut national du sport du Québec and, of course, Nicolas Gill. He was an excellent athlete and coach, and is now a great CEO and High Performance director working for a sport he loves.”
Mr. Tamura thinks judo has the wind in its sails, as we can see with the hosting of the Grand Prix, but also with the results of Canadian athletes, who are stepping on the podium more and more often, whether at the World Championships or the Grand Slam and Grand Prix events.
All this success wouldn’t have been possible without a collective effort.
“In the past, other Judo Canada’s presidents tried to host a Grand Prix, and they weren’t able to do it. Luckily for Nicolas and I, we were able to reach this goal together. The work was done over 13 years. We need a lot of people to host this kind of event, and I am privileged that the team I put together succeeded, members of the Board and staff members alike. It wouldn’t have been possible without everybody’s effort.”
It’s now time for the judokas to shine on the mats at the Maurice-Richard Arena.
Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada
Chief Operation Officer