Judo at the Olympics: GB team and rules

Judo, also known as "the gentle way", is a combat sport which features throws, pins and holds rather than punches and kicks. Here's everything you need to know about the Olympic judo competition.

Judo Olympics guide

Judo returns to the Nippon Budokan, where the sport made its Olympic debut in 1964, in the summer of 2021 as competitors from across the globe head to Tokyo.

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A grand total of 386 judoka from 129 countries will compete across the sport’s 14 weight classes – seven for each gender – and a new mixed team format will also make its debut.

RadioTimes.com brings you up to speed with everything you need to know about judo at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in the summer of 2021.

When is judo at the Olympics?

Judo runs from Saturday 24th July until Saturday 31st July.

Medal finals will take place on every single day of the eight days of judo contests so don’t blink or you’ll miss one!

Check out our guide on how to watch Olympics 2020 or see Olympics on TV today for more details, timings, and exclusive expert analysis from some of the biggest names in world sport over the coming weeks.

Sir Chris Hoy, Beth Tweddle, Rebecca Adlington, Matthew Pinsent and Dame Jess Ennis-Hill are among the stars we have to being their esteemed opinions, so don’t miss what they have to say.

  • Viewers who are looking to watch each and every sport from the Tokyo Olympics 2020, you can tune in for full coverage via online streaming platform discovery+

Olympic judo rules

The objective of judo is to subdue your opponent without striking them, using a variety of throws, pins or joint locks.

Competitors face each other on a 10×10 padded mat and begin by making grabs at each other in an attempt to unbalance their opponent or achieve a firm hold with which to throw.

The sport allows 68 different throwing techniques, known as nagewaza, and 32 grappling techniques, called katamewaza.

Competitors are awarded a half-point called a waza-ari for successful moves, but a perfectly executed throw will receive ippon, a full point, which automatically wins the match.

Ippon can also be awarded for holds that keep the opponent pinned for 20 seconds, or choke holds that force the opponent to submit. 

Since 2016, judo rules have been revised to make men’s and women’s matches of equal length at four minutes, and the judging time for waza-ari was reduced from 15 seconds to ten, in order to make matches faster and more aggressive.

Competitors who achieve ippon outright or through two waza-ari will win the match, and tied scores are resolved by a “golden score” system which awards the match to the next scoring player. 

The new mixed team event will use competitors drawn from the individual competition, with each team composed of an under 73kg, under 90kg and over 90kg male competitor, and an under 57kg, under 70kg and over 70kg female competitor.

Which Team GB athletes will compete in Olympic judo?

Team GB is sending six judoka to Tokyo. Reigning commonwealth champion Ashley McKenzie competes in his third Olympics in the -60kg class. Natalie Powell and Gemma Howes will compete in their second Olympics in the -78 and -70kg categories.

The rest of the Team GB squad is composed of judoka making their Olympic debut, including Lucy Renshall, who had to defeat three other fighters competing for her -63kg qualification spot. Also on the team are 8th seed Chelsie Giles (-52kg) and commonwealth games champion Sarah Adlington.

Other competitors to look out for include Japan’s Shohei Ono (-73kg), a Rio gold medallist who has gone undefeated since 2015, Noel van’t End, (-90kg), a Dutch competitor fresh from winning gold at the 20210 Doha IJF world masters, and Naohisa Takato, who is the top ranked fighter in Ashley McKenzie’s -60kg division.

The judo events take place between 24th and 31st July.

Read more – check out our comprehensive guides to the Olympic sports: Baseball and Softball | Canoeing | GymnasticsShooting | Swimming | Table Tennis | Weightlifting

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