Ori Sasson (top) is waiting to receive official confirmation of his participation at the Openweight World Championships in Marrekech before departing for Morocco..
(photo credit: INTERNATIONAL JUDO FEDEREATION/COURTESY)
Ori Sasson left Israel for Munich on Wednesday, but won’t be able board a flight to his final destination in Morocco as the organizers of the Openweight World Championships in Marrekech have yet to provide a letter of official confirmation regarding his participation, a necessary prerequisite to his travel visa.
Israel’s bronze medalist from the Rio Olympics is scheduled to compete at the Openweight World Championships on Saturday, but at best will only arrive in Marrekech on Thursday night. Nevertheless, Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponte, who is traveling with Sasson and men’s national team coach Oren Smadja, is confident the matter will be resolved once the President of the International Judo Federation, Marius Vizer, arrives in Morocco on Thursday.
Unlike the situation ahead of last month’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam event, Sasson, Smadja and Ponte have already acquired their visas, and with the championships being an openweight event, Sasson doesn’t need to arrive early in order to be weighed.
A record amount of prize money will be on the table at the Openweight World Championships, meaning all of Sasson’s top rivals will be participating, including Teddy Riner of France, the two-time defending Olympic champion and nine-time reigning world champion who hasn’t lost a bout since September 2010.
Gold medalists will earn a record 100,000 euro, with silver medalists receiving 50,000 and bronze medalists taking home 25,000. The prize money continues beyond the medalists, as the judokas who will finish in fifth will earn 10,000 euro while seventh place is worth 5,000.
In other judo news, next year’s world championships in Baku, Azerbaijan are set to be postponed by several days and will not take place as initially scheduled on the week of Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur falls on September 19 in 2018, meaning that Israel’s judokas were set to miss out on competing on both September 18 and 19.
However, the Israel Judo Association managed to convince the IJF to move the start of the championships to September 20, allowing all of Israel’s representatives to pick up valuable ranking points to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and improve their seeding in the Games.