By Jared Beinart
Israel will host the European Judo Championships’ senior event for the first time next year.
“This will be the first time we will host the European Championship for the senior [event],” said Moshe Ponte, president of the Israel Judo Association, in an interview with the EJU. “It will be a great atmosphere in Israel.”
Last November, Israel was the host of the Under-23 Championships in Tel Aviv. Having never before hosted a senior event, the IJA was able to use the success from this event to convince the EJU to present it the hosting rights for the 2018 championships.
“In every home, there are one to two children [who practice] judo and all the families will come to see judo,” Ponte said. “[Israelis] love judo, so they will be [friends or family] of the competitors on the mat.”
The country has been dominant in the sport for the past 20 years. At the Rio Olympics this past summer, two Israeli competitors returned home with one bronze medal each. Yarden Gerbi placed bronze in the women’s 63-kilogram division, while Or Sasson claimed third place in the men’s over-100 kg division. Five of Israel’s nine total Olympic medals so far have been for judo.
“I’d like to think [hosting this event] could improve Israel’s athletic reputation,” said Alex Pollack, a sophomore computer science major. “I know Israel did pretty well in judo at the most recent Olympics so hopefully the world continues to see Israel producing strong athletes.”
While the country has been dominant in the sport for the past few decades, the country has yet to host the senior event. Sophomore Aseem Peshwa believes that recent political issues may have been the reason for the delayed rights for Israel to host the event.
“I think recent political struggle in Israel and their surrounding counties has had a huge impact on why Israel has not held the championships before,” said Peshwa, an international business and supply chain management major. “I think that by hosting the [European] Judo Championships next year, Israel will get its foot in the door and will be able to host many more European events.”
As for future events, Peshwa said the European championships in soccer may be another event that Israel could host in the near future.
“Soccer is a huge sport across the world,” Peshwa said. “I know starting with Euro 2020 many different cities across Europe are going to be hosting games. Hopefully Tel Aviv will be able to [be a host city].”
EJU president Sergey Soloveychik will arrive in Israel this month to finalize details for the event with Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev, according to Ynet News.
Two arenas are projected to be potential venues for the event – the Tel Aviv Convention Center and the Pais Arena in Jerusalem, according to Ynet News.
“I believe hosting this type of event could inspire young Israelis to follow their athletic dreams,” Pollack said.