November 28 - Judo returns to its spiritual home tomorrow as some 336 competitors from 46 countries battle it out for glory at the final International Judo Federation (IJF) Grand Slam of the year at the 10,000 capacity Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Following on from events in Paris, Baku and Moscow, judoka will be looking to end the Grand Slam series on a high in front of the knowledgeable and passionate Japanese crowds that will pack into the Tokyo venue for the three days of action in a venue that hosted gymnastics during the 1964 Olympics in the Japanese capital and is due to stage table tennis when the Games return there in 2020.
With big world ranking points on offer and a total prize fund of $150,000 (£91,800/€110,000), the biggest names in the sport will be pitching up to go head to head on the tatami.
At today's draw, All Japan Judo Federation (AJJF) general secretary Hiromasa Uno welcomed competitors to Tokyo and looked forward to the competition.
"On behalf of the All Japan Judo Federation I have the pleasure of welcoming you all to Tokyo," he said.
"I wish the athletes a good competition and I hope they show fair play.
"I hope you all have a pleasant stay in Japan."
The competition looks set to be some of the best yet, with a plethora of big names hoping to take honours in Tokyo, where last year 10 of the 14 gold medals were claimed by Japanese athletes.
The home nation are expected to feature strongly again this year in the medal shake-up, none more so than reigning world champion and Tokyo Grand Slam champion Naohisa Takato, who will be looking to end an impressive year that saw him take gold at the World Championships in Rio de Janeiro along with wins in Paris and the World Judo Masters in Tyumen.
He will face stiff competition in the men's under 60kg class from the likes of World Championship runner-up Amartuvshin Dashdavaa of Mongolia, compatriot Boldbaatar Ganbat and Brazil's Olympic bronze medallist Felipe Kitadai.
Mongolia's world number one Davaadorj Tumurkhuleg and Frenchman David Larose are expected to be among the gold medal contenders in the under 66kg category along with Tyumen silver medallist Tomofumi Takajo of Japan, World Championship bronze medallist Georgii Zantaraia of Ukraine and Moscow Grand Slam runner-up Colin Oates of Great Britain.
In the under 73kg category, a silver medal in Tokyo will be enough to see Belgian world number two Dirk Van Tichelt claim the world number one spot after taking a couple of months out following his bronze medal in Rio.
Former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Riki Nakaya of Japan, Paris Grand Slam winner Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaatar of Mongolia and Slovenia's Rok Drakšič will also be major threats.
Rio silver medallist and current world number one Avtandil Tchrikishvili of Georgia will face stiff competition from the likes of his conqueror in Brazil, Frenchman Loïc Pietri, along with home favourites Keita Nagashima and Takahiro Nakai in the under 81kg class, while in the under 90 kg competition Daiki Nishiyama will also be looking to delight the crowd but will have to overcome World champion and Olympic silver medallist Asley González of Cuba.
Top seed and World Championships bronze medallist Lukáš Krpálek of the Czech Republic and Mongolia's former Olympic champion Tuvshinbayar Naidan will be looking to tame rising Canadian star and junior world champion Kyle Reyes in the under 100kg class.
In the over 100kg event, Brazil's Rafael Silva comes into the competition as top seed after impressing on home soil in Rio by taking a silver medal, but he will need to watch out for the wily and experienced Jean-Sébastien Bonvoisin of France.
On the women's side, another Brazilian Silva will be looking to follow on from her World Championship glory in Rio as Rafaela competes in the under 57kg class.
However, she faces some big obstacles in her pursuit of gold in the form of world and Olympic bronze medallist Marti Malloy of the United States and Germany's world number two and Paris and Baku Grand Slams winner Miryam Roper of Germany.
Roper's teammates Mareen Kräh and Romy Tarangul are expected to put up a good showing in the under 52kg class, where they will be up against world number two and Brazilian champion Erika Miranda and Baku Grand Slam winner Jaana Sundberg of Finland.
London 2012 champion Sarah Menezes and Mongolia's world champion Urantsetseg Munkhbat are the favourites in the under 48kg category, while the top three judoka in the under 63kg world rankings Yarden Gerbi of Israel, France's Clarisse Agbegnenou and Dutchwoman Anicka van Emden are expected to occupy the podium places in that category.
Another Dutch athlete is among the hot tips in the under 70kg class as world number one Kim Polling will be looking to follow up her win in Abu Dhabi last week with another gold in Tokyo, although she faces a fight for top spot with Colombia's world champion Yuri Alvear and Baku Grand Slam winner Kelita Zupancic of Canada.
Reigning Tokyo Grand Slam champion Ruika Sato of Japan will be out to make it two-in-a-row in the under 78kg category where she will battle it out with Gyeong-Mi Jeong of South Korea, Slovenian Anamari Velenšek and world number six Marhinde Verkerk of the Netherlands.
The over 78kg competition features the great Idalys Ortiz of Cuba, and the world and Olympic champion will be out to make amends against home favourite Megumi Tachimoto who denied her gold in Tokyo last year, while Brazil's world number two Maria Suelen Altheman can claim top spot by outperforming her compatriot Ortiz.
The Tokyo Grand Slam is due to run through until Sunday (December 1).
To watch the latest action on Judo TV click here.
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