November 2 - A host of top Chinese judoka were joined by a group of young, enthusiastic children today, as the "Judo Educational Journey Through China" initiative was launched by the International Judo Federation (IJF) in Qingdao, in partnership with the Chinese Judo Association (CJA).
The programme looks to explore the enormous potential of judo within China and promote the sport to as much of the country's 1.3 billion population as possible ahead of the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing next year.
In his speech, IJF President Mr Marius Vizer, read out on his behalf by the IJF's Education director Mohamed Meridja, described the importance of "transmitting the Olympic values" to help contribute to the development of Judo throughout China.
"China is one of the most important countries in the world of Judo," he said.
"With good results and many achievements, the Chinese champions have left an indelible mark in the world.
"The Judo Educational Journey through China is a joint initiative of the International Judo Federation and the Chinese Judo Association.
"The goal is to reach out to children and youth who are less familiar with our sport and introduce all the values of judo to them.
"In an attempt to consolidate our sport in the Chinese sporting landscape, the IJF will meet institutions and leaders, and thus contribute to spread Judo in China.
"In 2013 and 2014 the Judo Journey will visit 10 cities and will stop to say hello in Nanjing, before the Youth Olympic Games.
"By transmitting throughout the journey the Olympic values that go hand in hand with the Judo values and principle, the activity will contribute to the development of our sport, meanwhile enforcing the Olympic message.
"I would like to thank the Chinese Judo Association and the Chinese Olympic Committee for organising this activity and for all the efforts made for the success of Judo.
"Tomorrow's Olympic champions might be among the children who will participate in this activity."
The Tour will visit 10 cities during this period, including Zibo Hengtai, which is its next stop, Binzhou, Shandong, Jinan, Tianjin and Beijing.
Today's session included an official opening by the president of the Chinese Literature Federation Wan Bo Ao, followed by a warm-up and games session with the children, and a short randori session led by double Olympic champion Xian Dongme, 2008 Olympic gold medallist Tong Wen and 2004 Olympic silver medallist Li Xia.
During the afternoon session, the IJF and CJA delegation visited the 39th school of Qingdao to share the judo values with 200 pupils and their teachers and give the children an opportunity to interview the Chinese judo champions.
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