The International Judo Federation (IJF) World Tour is set to continue at the setting for the 2018 World Championships with the latest Grand Slam due to begin in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku tomorrow.
World ranking points will be on offer at the Haydar Aliyev Sport Hall, with 1,000 for gold, 700 for silver and 500 for bronze.
The Baku Grand Slam is the last major stop on the IJF World Tour prior to this year’s World Championships, scheduled to take place in Japan’s capital Tokyo from August 25 to 31.
The draw for the event was held at Hyatt Regency Hotel today.
A total of 431 athletes - 256 men and 175 women - from 56 countries will enter the tatami to battle for the gold medals.
Competition will be spread across three days, concluding on Sunday (May 12).
The biggest category for men is the under-81 kilograms, with 48 participants.
As for the women, the under-57kg division has the highest number of athletes with 29.
Among the leading names competing in Baku are Olympic champions Rafaela Silva of Brazil and Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia.
World champions in action include Japanese trio Tsukasa Yoshida, Shori Hamada and Chizuru Arai, as well as Spain’s Nikoloz Sherazadishvili.
"This year, Azerbaijan is the location for our final Grand Slam event before the World Championships in Tokyo this summer," IJF head sport director Vladimir Barta said.
"Olympic and world champions will compete this weekend and we expect a fantastic competition.
"On behalf of the IJF President Mr Marius Vizer, I’d like to thank the Azerbaijan Judo Federation and to wish you all the best of luck."
Azerbaijan Judo Federation general secretary Elmar Babanli welcomed the delegations on behalf of the host nation, adding: "Last year we were able to stage a successful World Championship.
"We are confident that the Baku Grand Slam will be hosted in a similar way.
"I wish the best of luck to all participants."