A letter from Europe, by JA David Fuentes

17-18 September, 2021

The EJU Open Sarajevo – Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dear JA,

Being out of Australia and staying in Europe gave me the opportunity to travel to Sarajevo for the EJU open.

The first competition in Europe after the Olympic games, the competition had over 300 athletes trying to get points for the next Olympic cycle.

Normally the first competition after the Olympics are always rather small, but since the next Olympic cycle is only 3 years long and because of the pandemic all athletes are keen to get on the mat and back into competition.

The IJF has strict COVID protocols that are stricter than many of the countries in Europe. We must enter a judo bubble and for that we all need two tests before departure, plus one on arrival.

On arrival we must stay isolated in our rooms until we get the negative result. Only then we are allowed to leave the room and join the rest of the judo bubble. So, it is worth to bring your own food and entertainment for when you get stuck in your room!

It was my first time in Sarajevo, but I only got to see the inside of the hotel room and the competition hall – which was also inside the hotel. COVID has made travelling a bit less fun and with more paperwork. Being stuck inside the bubble does bring people closer together.

Athletes can talk to Referees, Referees have drinks and meals with coaches, organisers meet the international guests that have come to the competition, relationships are made, and we can discuss situations and issues off the mat in a friendly atmosphere with common respect.

Having the chance to talk to each other brings a greater appreciation for the different jobs and the aims that we are all trying to achieve.

Until Next Time,