IJF President President Marius Vizer, right, claims the sport is in an ideal position prior to Tokyo 2020 ©IJF

International Judo Federation (IJF) President Marius Vizer believes the sport is in an ideal position as the countdown to the Tokyo 2020 draws closer.

The Olympic Games in Tokyo have been viewed as a homecoming for judo, with the sport having been founded by Jigaro Kano in Japan.

Athletes have already began their pursuit of qualification points to secure their place at the Games, with the process set to step up further when the new season gets underway.

Tel Aviv will open the season with a Grand Prix event due to take place in the Israeli city from Thursday (January 24) to Saturday (January 26), an event Vizer claims has "high symbolic significance".

Vizer reflected on the opening stages of the season at the IJF Executive Committee meeting in the Austrian town Kitzbühel.

"We are in the middle of Olympic qualifying, every event counts and can decide the fate of our athletes,” Vizer said.

“We will open the season with the Tel Aviv Grand Prix.

“This is the first time Israel will host one of the World Judo Tour competition, and it has a high symbolic significance.

“Then we will go to Paris and Düsseldorf for the first two Grand Slams of the year.

“These first three competitions are of high prestige."

“We are entering the final stretch before the Tokyo Games in 2020.

“All the successes and advances in all areas that we have seen in recent months demonstrate that judo is on the right track.”

Among the key events in the build-up to the Olympics will be this year’s World Championships, which will take place at the Nippon Budokan venue in Tokyo.

The Championships has been viewed by the IJF as a key test event for organisers prior to the Olympic Games.

Yamashita Yasuhiro, All Japan Judo Federation President, gave a presentation to the IJF Executive Committee on their preparations for the Championships.

Competition will be held from August 25 to September 1.

The IJF season, which will include high profile Grand Prix and Grand Slam events, will conclude with the World Judo Masters in China.

Following the Executive Committee meeting, Vizer claimed he was confident the sport is going to enjoy a successful two years.

IJF President Marius Vizer praised the organisation's ongoing development programmes ©IJF
IJF President Marius Vizer praised the organisation's ongoing development programmes ©IJF

"We are currently consolidating everything we have done for several seasons,” he said.

"I believe that judo has a great future.

"I do not want to forget all the work we do for the development and promotion of the values that make our sport a special player on the international scene.

"This part of our action may be a little less visible, but it is crucial.

"We are passionate about promoting our values to children, to schools, with the Judo for Children/Judo in School programme, or to refugees with Judo for Peace, all of whom always keeping in mind the promotion of gender equity."

Presentation of the programmes and their continued development were given by their coordinators, with Vizer asserting the development activities were important for both sport and society.

IJF head referring director Juan Carlos Barcos also revealed there had been more positive scoring in judo over recent months.

A great percentage of matches won by ippon have been reported following rule changes made at the start of 2018.

The IJF also confirmed the 2019 Cadet World Championships will take place in Kazakhstan this year.

The event will be held from September 25 to 29.