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Judo’s Unique Role in the 2024 Paris Olympics: A Comparative Analysis

Judo’s Unique Role in the 2024 Paris Olympics: A Comparative Analysis

7 Jun 2024 19:55
JudoHeroes & IJF Media / Copyright:

As the 2024 Paris Olympic Games draw near, the ancient and respected martial art of judo stands poised to capture global attention once more. Judo, a sport that evolved from the lethal techniques of the samurai, is now a staple of the Olympics, offering a unique blend of physical competition and philosophical principles. This blog post explores judo's distinctive position in the Olympics, particularly how it compares with other sports in the upcoming games.

Introduction to Judo at the Paris 2024 Olympics

Judo’s inclusion in the Olympics since 1964 has highlighted its blend of mental discipline and physical prowess. Originating in Japan and founded by Dr. Jigoro Kano, judo, which means "the gentle way," teaches the principle of using an opponent's strength against them. This Olympic cycle, judo will see competitors from all over the world converge at the Paris 2024 Olympics, striving not only for personal and national glory but to embody judo's rich values of respect and humility.

At Paris 2024, the judo competition will feature 372 athletes (186 men and 186 women), reflecting a slight decrease from the previous games. Each day of the competition from July 27 to August 3 will see eliminations, quarterfinals, semifinals, and medal matchups across various weight categories, with the culmination being the mixed team events.

Judo Compared to Other Sports

In contrast to other Olympic sports, judo offers a unique competitive format. Unlike track or swimming events, where time and distance are clear metrics of performance, judo competitions are decided through a complex scoring system of ippons and waza-aris, based on the execution of techniques. This system requires not only physical skill but also tactical intelligence and an immediate understanding of the opponent's movements.

Moreover, the qualification system for judo is particularly rigorous, reflecting its global reach and competitive nature. Athletes qualify based on their standings in the World Judo Tour and must be among the top in their weight categories. Additionally, there are specific quota spots reserved for athletes from underrepresented nations, ensuring a diverse representation at the games.

Judo Favourites to Watch in the Paris 2024 Olympics

As the Paris 2024 Olympics approach, the judo community is abuzz with excitement over potential favourites and top contenders. Teddy Riner from France, aiming for another gold in the heavyweight category, is expected to draw significant local support. Similarly, Clarisse Agbegnenou, returning after a maternity break, is a favorite in her category although not anymore the world champion as that is now youngster Joanne van Lieshout. A top act in the -81kg category is Tato Grigalashvili, ideally in a dream final against Belgian rival Matthias Casse. On the international front, Japan's judokas are anticipated to continue their strong Olympic legacy, challenging competitors across all weight classes. These athletes' quest for gold is discussed keenly in podcasts and UFC prelims bets alike, where judo's strategic parallels to combat sports are highlighted​. Two of the Japanese favourites are the siblings Uta and Hifumi Abe.

Why Judo Stands Out

One of the most compelling aspects of judo in the Olympics is its emphasis on moral education alongside physical training. Judo teaches principles that transcend the mat—like respect, courage, and honor—which resonate with the Olympic spirit itself. This philosophical depth sets judo apart from many other sports, where the focus might predominantly be on physicality or strategy.

Furthermore, the 2024 games will be particularly significant for judo, as France has a rich history with the sport, having embraced it widely since the late 20th century. The French team is expected to perform strongly, given their deep connection and national interest in judo, which might amplify the local and international viewership and enthusiasm.


As we look towards the 2024 Paris Olympics, judo remains a fascinating study in contrast and comparison with other Olympic sports. It not only challenges athletes physically but also engages them—and the audience—in a deeper understanding of what it means to compete with honor and respect. Whether you're a seasoned judo fan or a newcomer, the Paris Olympics promises to be a showcase of some of the best qualities that sports can offer: excellence, respect, and international camaraderie. As such, judo not only competes on the tatami but also champions the enduring values of the Olympic movement.

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