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Judo: IJF to pass on Tokyo Grand Slam in December: source

Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita speaks during an interview in Tokyo on July 20, 2020, three days before the start of the one-year countdown to the Tokyo Olympics that have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The International Judo Federation has decided not to hold the Tokyo Grand Slam as scheduled from Dec. 11-13 amid novel coronavirus infection concerns, a source close to the matter told Kyodo News on Saturday.

    Judo sources said Yasuhiro Yamashita, head of the All Japan Judo Federation and president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, had a teleconference with IJF President Marius Vizer on Friday. They agreed a mass infection could jeopardize next summer's Tokyo Olympics.

    Although officials would like to stage the Tokyo Grand Slam sometime before the end of the spring, a scarcity of suitable venues at that time means it might not be held at all.

    Reactions to the decision have been mixed.

    "It would have been huge for the Olympics if we could host an international tournament with (a contact sport like) judo," said one judo official.

    Some accepted the decision as understandable, including Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Games' organizing committee, who said Thursday the matter has to be "handled carefully."

    One organizing committee source said "we cannot afford a failure that could impact the Olympics."

    Another Olympic official spoke of the difficulty in setting up immigration protocols in time.

    "I felt it was tight in terms of a timeframe to get the preparations done," the source said.

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