Judoka from emerging judo nations attended an IBSA development event in Finland ©IBSA

A total of 56 athletes from 19 countries took part in a new development competition held in Finland by the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA) and International Judo Federation.

The event, held at the Finnish Olympic and Paralympic Training Complex in Pajulahti, 120 kilometres from Helsinki, was established for judoka from less well established judo nations.

Explaining the idea behind organising the competition the IBSA said: "There was a need to organise an event to include both competition and training camp that supports beginners and developing competitors.

"The goal is for these competitors to catch up with the elite level as soon as possible and this can only be achieved with co-operation and special tools.

"This IBSA judo innovation primarily addresses the small judo nations."

The innovation was partly prompted by an increase in new competitors following the International Paralympic Committee decision in the wake of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics to implement longstanding research and divide Para judo into two classes of visual impairment.

The first is J1 for blind and almost blind judoka, while the second is J2 for partially sighted judoka.

Athletes from emerging judo nations attended a development event set up jointly by the IBSA and the IJF in Finland ©IBSA
Athletes from emerging judo nations attended a development event set up jointly by the IBSA and the IJF in Finland ©IBSA

The IBSA described the new system as "much fairer than the previous one and gives many more opportunities for the visually impaired to participate and achieve medals at the Paralympics.

"Since the decision was taken and implemented, the IBSA Judo Committee has noticed that a lot of new competitors have taken part."

Five new countries - Israel, Luxembourg, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates and Morocco - have joined IBSA judo, representing a total of 20 new competitors.

Brazil were the most successful nation in the beginner competition with three gold medals, followed by India and Portugal with two golds each.

Other golds were won by Kazakhstan, South Africa, Hungary and Moldova, while a total of 17 countries won medals.

János Tardos, the IBSA Judo chairman said: “As chairman of the IBSA Judo Committee, I would like to thank the IPC, IBSA and IJF for their financial support.

"The management of IBSA Judo considers it a priority goal to support and catch up with new countries and new competitors."