Austria is a busy Federation. The ambition is high, only the best is good enough for the Austrians who have been fishing on the coaching transfer market successfully some time ago, but now there is another focus, to get a Grand Prix event to Austria’s city Linz.
Since the foundation of the A-tournaments, the World Cup events in 1989, Austria has been involved in world judo. The World Cup of the famous tournament in Leonding was held for 17 years. The Vienna took over as a World Cup city followed by Oberwart since 2011 that now celebrates its eleventh edition.
In the background Austria is working on another event, a Judo Grand Prix in Linz. It has already been confirmed by the deputy major who is responsible for sports, and the developments can actually happen quite quickly. “The goal is to organizs a tournament as early as spring 2023,” says Martin Poiger, President of the Judo Association (ÖJV), when asked. For this purpose, a four-year contract with the World Federation (IJF) must be signed in September or October at the latest. The ÖJV has already made contact. The Sportland Oberösterreich also signals readiness. “We are currently looking for possible dates,” says Upper Austria’s state sports director Gerhard Rumetshofer.
When moving from Oberwart to Linz, the tournament could be upgraded: Instead of the current European Open status, a Grand Prix is aimed for, which is the second highest tournament category on the World Tour after the Grand Slams. This is more lucrative for the fighters in terms of both qualifying points and prize money, which in turn attracts more international caliber.
The Tips Arena is the obvious venue, although there are several variants. “Our Plan A is now to do a Grand Prix there. Because if we don’t try it now, then when? We have an Upper Austrian Olympic medalist in Shamil Borchashvili, we have our main base there – you can tell that our sport has a corresponding importance there,” says Poiger, who was still on the mat himself as an active player in Leonding.
Borchashvili is enthusiastic and preparing for the World Championships in Tashkent (UZB) on October 6th. “I’ve really exhausted myself at training camps in Papendal (NED) and Valencia (ESP) over the past two weeks. I’m really looking forward to Oberwart, my first tournament in more than two months,” says Borchashvili. His younger brother Wachid won the tournament U81kg at the previous edition in 2020. There won’t be a duel, however, since Wachid has meanwhile climbed U90kg.