March 30 - Turkey's Minister for Youth and Sport Suat Kilic was today joined by International Judo Federation (IJF) President Marius Vizer as they opened the Tekkeköy Turkey Yasar East Sports Hall in Samsun.
The Hall in the Black Sea port, specially built for the country's inaugural IJF Grand Prix, attracted several other dignitaries, including Sergey Soloveychik, President of the European Judo Union (EJU), before a capacity crowd.
Vizer also used the opportunity to send good wishes to Istanbul's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, which on Wednesday (March 26) had received a glowing assessment from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission, chaired by Britain's Sir Craig Reedie.
"Mr Minister, dear guests, officials and judoka, on behalf of the IJF and our European judo family and all judoka in the world, I want to thank you very much for organising the first Samsun Grand Prix in this beautiful hall," Vizer told the crowd.
"We wish good luck to Istanbul in their bid for the 2020 Olympic Games and good luck to all judoka competing here in Samsun."
During the Opening Ceremony, Vizer presented the IJF World Judo Tour Gold Card to Kilic (pictured top).
"Dear IJF President, EJU President, dear colleagues, guests and everyone who is close to one of Turkey's most beautiful cities," said Kilic.
"We are very proud to host all of you for this great event on the way to 2020 Olympic Games for which we are candidates for in Istanbul.
"We are all here to open the competition and thank you for your support at this great event."
The star of the first day of the competition was Kosovo's Majlinda Kelmendi, who following Paris and Düsseldorf last month, reached her third consecutive World Judo Tour final in the -52 kilogram category
She continued her scintillating form with victory in the final over Germany's Mareen Kraeh to add to the silver medal she had won in Paris and gold in Düsseldorf.
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March 2013: Grand Prix Judo event gives Turkey another chance to show hosting abilities