Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju met Indian judokas ahead of their departure to Hungary for the Budapest Grand Slam and wished them the best for the competition, emphasizing that judo was a priority sport for the country.
The Budapest Grand Slam is part of the Tokyo Olympics qualification criteria and will be held in the Hungarian capital between October 23 and October 25.
The Indian contingent travelling to the tournament will comprise of five judokas - Jasleen Singh Saini, Sushila Devi, Tulika Mann, Avtar Singh and Vjay Yadav - along with their coach Jiwan Sharma.
Rijiju met the contingent at his residence. He also lauded the efforts taken by the Ministry and the Judo Federation for the improvement of training facilities for the sport in India.
"The team is leaving for Hungary today and I am hopeful that some of the athletes will qualify. Judo is a priority sport for us and we will enhance capacity both in terms of training facilities and coaches. The idea is to extend full support to the elite athletes while building up a talent pool of young athletes who can compete in the Olympics of 2024 and 2028. We will discuss a more exhaustive road-map with the federation and plan ahead," Rijiju said.
Olympic spots up for grabs in Budapest for the judokas
The Budapest Grand Slam will be the first tournament the Indian judokas participate in since the imposition of the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jasleen Singh Saini, the Indian men's judoka ranked World No. 56, spoke about the positive work done by the federation and the ministry for the judo athletes in the country.
"I am feeling very positive after meeting the Sports Minister. He spoke to us and shared his knowledge which is really helpful. This will be the first tournament we will be playing in after the COVID lockdown. From the entire Judo fraternity, we would like to thank the Sports Ministry, Sports Authority of India and the Judo Federation of India for organizing this for us," Jasleen Singh Saini said.
A total of about 645 judokas from around 81 countries will take part in the Budapest Grand Slam with coveted Olympic spots up for grabs, as the sport returns to competitive action following a lengthy break.Published 20 Oct 2020, 15:20 IST