National judo team qualification for 2020 Olympics in Tokyo: strategies, options and prospects

Dr.Hab., Professor A.G. Levitsky1
PhD, Associate Professor V.A. Kuvanov2
V.A. Dorofeev2
1Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health, St. Petersburg
2St. Petersburg Mining University, St. Petersburg

Keywords: judo, World Championship, Olympic Games, qualification

Background. Qualifications for the national judo team for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo have been going on since May 2018 within the total numbers, male/ female quotas for every weight class and age group set by International Judo Federation (IJF), and in compliance with the IJF regulations and qualification criteria – mostly the rating points of the prospects in the qualification cycle.

How the leading national judo competitors are going to get licensed for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo? 352 Olympic licenses will be awarded basically according to the World IJF Ranking List as of May 25, 2020, albeit a few qualification versions may be used. The top-18 athletes listed in the World IJF Ranking will be directly licensed in every weight class, with only one national athlete qualified for the Olympics in every weight class; plus 100 top national athletes on the World IJF Rankingn list may be additionally qualified for the games under the continental quotas as follows: (a) Every continent runs its own ranking list based on the World IJF Ranking; (b) Every continental sport union may qualify for the Olympics its non-licensed athletes listed in the above continental ranking; and (c) When some continent fails to qualify the required number of athletes, the quota will be handed over to the next top-ranking unlicensed athletes.

Objective of the study was to analyze the Olympic lizensing strategies for the national judo leaders.

Methods and structure of the study. We used the valid formal Olympic qualification documents to analyze the national judo leaders’ competitive performance in the World Championship events for the last decade [1, 2]. The performance data listed in Tables 2 and 3 hereunder show that the ranking points for winners and runner-ups of the top ranking events sponsored by IJF have grown up multiple times.

Table 1. Ranking and qualification system for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro

Standing (place)

Open Continental Cup

Grand Prix

Continental Championship

Grand Slam

Masters

World Championship

1

100

300

400

500

700

900

2

60

180

240

300

420

540

3

40

120

160

200

280

360

5

20

60

80

100

140

180

7

16

48

64

80

112

144

…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 win

4

12

16

20

28

36

Participation

-

2

2

2

-

4

Table 2. Ranking and qualification system for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Standing (place)

Open Continental Cup

Grand Prix

Continental Championship

Grand Slam

Masters

World Championship

1

100

700

700

1000

1800

2000

2

70

490

490

700

1260

1400

3

50

350

350

500

900

1000

5

36

252

252

360

648

720

7

26

182

182

260

468

520

…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 win

10

70

70

100

-

200

Participation

-

6

6

10

200

20

Participants are additionally motivated for the tournaments by the following prize money: see Table 3.

Table 3. Prize money in the pre-Olympic cycle, USD

Places

Grand Prix

Grand Slam

Masters

Prize fund

100 000

150 000

200 000

1

3000

5000

6000

2

2000

3000

4000

3

1000

1500

2000

The World Championships are supported by the highest prize fund of USD1 million. The main objective of the qualification cycle is to score the ranking points for guaranteed qualification for the Olympic Games in the top-ranking events. At the same time the top-ranking events are used to improve the competitive fitness, test it and revise, when necessary, the technical/ tactical toolkits; work out the best competitive plans; collect information about the potential rivals etc.

The potential Olympians are offered ample opportunities to score the necessary ranking points: thus 8 Grand Prix events and 5 Grand Slam events are scheduled in 2019. It should be also mentioned that the competitive successes and prize money won in the Grand Prix and Grand Slam events (that welcome 2 national competitors and 4 competitors from the host country in every weight class) heavily encourage the winners’ Olympic training process.

As for the Masters events, they lead in terms of the prize funds albeit are run once a year only for only the world best judo competitors, with only 16 people qualified for the event in their weight classes. It is obvious that any analysis shall take into account the pool of competitors since the ranking points directly depend on the rank of the event – i.e. the higher is the aggregate individual rankings of the competitors, the higher are the ranking points offered by the event.

The top-ranking athletes reasonably hoping to win the upcoming Olympic titles normally skip the low-ranking events like the Open Continental Cup events (there are 16 of them in 2019) since the energy costs and injury risks may not be covered by the winnable ranking points. It may be pertinent to mention that the Open Continental Cup events offer 7, 10, 15 and 20 times less ranking points than the Grand Prix, Grand Slam, Masters and World Championship events, respectively.

Results and discussion. Every national Federation is expected to design its Olympic licensing strategy for the pre-Olympic cycle with due consideration for own resources and opportunities, with the best ranking points winning strategy drafted based on an analysis of the pros and cons of every solution.

For example, the solutions implying an intense competitive schedule expose the team to the high financial costs; high injury risks; and risks for the sport forms due to fatigue – that requires a special priority being given to rehabilitation systems. The solutions that imply participation only in the top-ranking events of the Olympic cycle are normally affordable only for the teams having the top-ranking judo competitors with good win chances. The long breaks in the competitive schedules, however, may be also harmful for the competitive fitness.

As far as the competitive performance of the our judo competitors in the World Championship event in the prior and current Olympic cycles (see Table 4) are concerned, it should be mentioned that the Russian team has always expected to win at least three medals  with the relevant high ranking points.

Table 4. Russian judo team standings in the 2009-18 World Championships

Medals

World Championships

2009

2010

2011

2013

2014

2015

2017

2018

Gold

1

-

1

-

-

-

-

-

Silver

1

-

-

1

2

2

1

1

Bronze

1

3

3

2

6

1

3

2

Total

3

3

4

3

8

3

4

3

 

Table 5. Russian judo team statistics for the 20017-18 World Championships of the current Olympic cycle

 

2017

2018

Competitors

18

18

Men

9

9

Women

9

9

Places

1

-

-

2

1

1

3

3

2

5

1

-

7

2

3

It is important that the Russian judo team has lately qualified for the World Championships in every weight class (18 competitors in total) and demonstrated stable competitive successes with the relevant high ranking points. In the current Olympic qualification cycle, the World Championship events offer high ranking points not only to the winners and runner-ups (even to those placed 5 and 7) but even to the qualifiers, with a win in the events being 2 times ‘heavier’ in terms of the ranking points than in the Open Continental Cup: see Table 5. This is the reason why the leading national judo competitors give a high priority to qualifications for the 2019 World Championship events appreciating both their competitive conditioning aspects and the winnable high ranking points for the Olympic qualifications.

Conclusion. An individual Olympic qualification strategy shall be designed with account of the actual individual competitive conditioning plan, ranking points winnable in every pre-Olympic event, national qualification quotas for these events and the financial situation for participations. We would offer the following potential strategies: (1) join multiple low-ranking competitions to accumulate the rating points; (2) compete only in the high-ranking competitions bringing the highest rating points each; and (3) combine the low- and high-ranking events so as to collect the desired rating points. Every of the strategies may be successful if reasonably sensitive to the actual current individual competitive performance of each athlete. The ranking points winning strategy shall be selected on an individual basis for each prospect for the Olympics as required by the individual competitive conditioning profiles.

References

  1. Levitskiy A.G., Rakhlin M.A. Sovremennye tendentsii v podgotovke dzyudoistov-yunoshey k sorevnovatelnoy deyatelnosti [Current trends in youth men's judo pre-competitive training]. Uchenye zapiski universiteta im. P.F. Lesgafta. 2007. no. 6 (28). pp. 62-66.
  2. Apoyko R.N., Tarakanov B.I., Levitskiy A.G. Analiz dostizheniy stran – uchastnits na Olimpiyskikh igrakh po greko-rimskoy borbe [Analysis of the performance of national teams in Greco-Roman wrestling at Olympic Games]. Uchenye zapiski universiteta im. P.F. Lesgafta, 2013. no. 5 (99). pp. 7-10.
  3. Available at:https://www.judo.ru/results/: date of access: 7.11.2018.
  4. Available at:https://www.ijf.org/documents: date of access:12.11.2018.
  5. Available at:https://www.ijf.org/wrl: date of access: 6.11.2018.
  6. Available at:http://www.eju.net/files/news/: date of access: 9.11.2018.

Corresponding author: al.yudo@yandex.ru

Abstract

Qualifications for the national judo team for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has been going on since May 2018 within the total numbers, male/ female quotas for every weight class and age group set by International Judo Federation (IJF), and in compliance with the IJF regulations and selection criteria – mostly the rating points of the prospects in the qualification cycle. We analyzed the accomplishments of the national judo teams in the World Championships and the Olympic licensing prospects for the present qualification cycle, and offered the rating points winning strategies with analysis of their pros and cons. A special priority is given to the following three potential strategies: (1) join multiple low-ranking competitions to accumulate the rating points; (2) compete only in the high-ranking competitions bringing the highest rating points each; and (3) combine the low- and high-ranking events so as to collect the desired rating points. Every of the strategies may be successful if driven by the actual current individual performance rates of the athletes. A rating points collection strategy shall be selected on an individual basis for each prospect for the Olympics as required by the individual competitive fitness profiles.