Marius Vizer has marked World Judo Day and its theme of solidarity ©IJF

International Judo Federation (IJF) President Marius Vizer marked World Judo Day today by saying this year's theme of solidarity has become a "key element of our existence".

World Judo Day is marked every year on October 28 to coincide with the birthday of the sport's founder Jigoro Kano, with each staging given a specific theme.

Members of the judo community across the world hold their own events to celebrate the occasion.

Vizer said that solidarity was particularly important as judo bounced back from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While judo is a sport which fosters noble moral values like friendship, respect and mutual aid, this year, more than ever, solidarity has been the key element of our existence," said Vizer.

"We have proven that with unity and solidarity, we can overcome any obstacles. 

"We have managed to organise safe and fair competitions, including a successful World Championship and Olympic judo competition, and we kept the international judo family together. 

Solidarity is the theme of this year's World Judo Day ©IJF
Solidarity is the theme of this year's World Judo Day ©IJF

"Working as a team, creating fair conditions in a reliable environment, yielded together the judo community and I am sure that this made us all stronger.

"Whether individually or as a team, judokas worldwide proved that solidarity is not just a notion."

Vizer highlighted IJF projects which he said would not have been possible without solidarity, such as the Olympic refugee team and the first online judo festival.

He added the debut of the mixed team event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was won by France, saw "solidarity and team spirit prevail in an exceptional manner".

"I strongly believe that this unforgettable day shaped the hearts and minds of many young judoka, who now know without any doubt that nothing is impossible and together we can achieve outstanding performances," he said.

"Today, I would like to wish all judokas in the world a happy World Judo Day, lots of health and success in all their endeavours. 

"I would like to congratulate all athletes, coaches, the IJF member National Federations and Continental Unions, as well as the IJF Executive Committee, the IJF Commissions and staff for their work and results.

"We have to remain united in solidarity and, together, we will achieve even more in the future."

World Judo Day messages were posted on social media by star athletes, including France's heavyweight Teddy Riner, a triple Olympic gold medallist and 10-time world champion.

At the World Kata Championships in Lisbon, which ended on Sunday (October 24), athletes and officials gathered together for a final discussion about several themes and to celebrate World Judo Day.

In Belgium, the solidarity theme was adhered to after mats and equipment were donated to clubs that were affected by the floods which hit the country in July.

An online seminar was held by countries in Southeast Asia with the title "Anniversary of Kano Jigoro Shihan's Birth".