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News Navigator: Why did the rules for judo change?

Rio de Janeiro Olympic judo gold medalist Haruka Tachimoto, center left, holds a demonstration in Niigata city's Chuo Ward on March 25, 2017. (Mainichi)

The 2017 World Judo Championships will start in Budapest, Hungary, on Aug. 28. The Mainichi answers common questions readers may have about the new changes to the rules for the competition.

    Question: Will a mixed-gender team event be held at the competition for the first time?

    Answer: Yes. As the Tokyo Olympic Games will hold a mixed-gender team event for the first time in 2020, the team event for the world championships was changed from being divided into men's and women's events. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) set a goal to increase the participation rate of female judoka because there was comparatively low interest among women, so the International Judo Federation (IJF) proposed the change.

    Q: The rules for the event have changed too, right?

    A: The match length for the men's team event was shortened by one minute to match that of the women's event at four minutes. According to the new rule, two "waza-ari" scores are no longer the equivalent of one "ippon."

    Q: Why were the rules changed?

    A: The rules were changed to make judo more interesting for spectators and to increase the popularity of the event. The shortened time aims to promote more dynamic matches where athletes must proactively act from the beginning. Additionally, by changing the rules so that no amount of "waza-ari" is equal to a winning "ippon," it also increased the value of the more visually spectacular ippon.

    Q: They also got rid of "yuko" scoring, right?

    A: Originally, there were four levels of scoring in judo: "ippon," "waza-ari," "yuko" and "koka." However, after eliminating "koka" in 2008, the IJF removed "yuko" in 2016, effective from this year's competitions. There was a time when matches only had "ippon" and "waza-ari," but so a definitive winner could be decided objectively within the time limit, "yuko" and "koka" scores were introduced roughly 40 years ago. The new rules shift the focus of the match from the clarity of winning or losing to visual appeal, returning to the original form of the sport.

    A: Are the new rules working?

    Q: The new rules have been in place in international competitions since January this year, but in some competitions, there were more cases of overtime matches and other small hitches against the IJF's expectations. The IJF plans to look at the outcome of the world championships and re-examine the new rules. (Answers by Akira Matsumoto, Sports News Department)

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