From the 18th through the 20th of July 1998, the Spanish Blind Sports Federation, member of the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) took up the challenge of organizing the 1st World Blind Sports Championships in Madrid, Spain. Four sporting disciplines, Judo, Athletics, Swimming and Goalball, were organizing with the support of the Spanish National Organization for the Blind (ONCE.) The judo competition, which was the 3rd World Blind Judo Championships, was held at the National Institute for Physical Education in Madrid. The individual judo events were held from the 18th through the 19th with the team events following on the 20th. A total of 25 National Federations participated with 94 men and 25 women for a total of 119 total participants. In the team events, 20 teams competed for the team titles. A minimum of three athletes per country were required to compete in the team events.

The World Blind Judo Championships applied all IJF regulations with only IJF International Level referees refereeing during the competition. A total of 18 International Referees participated at these championships. There were no age limits with the oldest athlete being John Mastro from the USA at 50 years old, while the youngest athlete was Isao Cruz from Cuba at only 15 years old. The competition time was 5 minutes for men and 4 minutes for women. Due to the increase in competitors by over double compared to the last World Championships held in 1995 at Colorado Springs, this championship used two competition areas. As the IJF approved the use of the blue judogi in IJF Events, the Blind Judo Association also decided to use the blue and white judogis for the first time. The weight categories as approved during the 1997 IJF Paris Ordinary Congress were also used in this tournament.

Top countries by number of gold medals:

  2. JAPAN
  4. USA
  5. CHINA
  6. CUBA
  7. ITALY
  8. SPAIN

Mr. Jim Kojima of Canada, IJF Refereeing Director attended the events and was very impressed with the organization, site, and number of countries as well as the number of competitions. The level of judo was extremely high with practically no difference between other judokas. We are all part of the judo family. Through this events we could see a major difference between the usual judo championships and the World Blind Championships. That is in the Blind World Judo Championships whether you are the winner or loser, both contestants are always happy and smiling.

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