National judo event pulls $782K into economy


Courtesy West Michigan Sports Commission

Downtown is hosting a national judo competition this weekend.

The U.S. Judo Federation/U.S. Judo Association Junior and Grassroots National Championships will be held at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids from Friday through Sunday.

“This championship is an incredible opportunity to showcase the sport of judo in the Midwest, while giving our regional youth a drivable national tournament in which they can compete,” said Jim Murray, tournament director and president of Konan Judo, as well as board member of the U.S. Judo Federation.

“It’s a feather in our cap to bring this popular worldwide sport to our region of the country.”

More than 300 athletes from across the country have registered for the event, with 30 athletes from Michigan, including 10 from West Michigan. About 120 athletes are from the Great Lakes states.

Athletes between the ages of 8 and 20 will compete in various age and weight categories. Boys and girls will compete separately. There will be five competition areas that will run tournament brackets simultaneously.

The athletes will compete in a modified double-elimination format for a gold medal. Winners will also receive seven points toward the athlete’s national judo ranking, which eventually determines who will represent the U.S. in judo at the Olympic Games.

The athletes can win by either throwing their opponent to their back with force, speed and control, by immobilizing their opponent with a hold-down technique for 20 seconds or by submission when their opponent taps out.

There will be five coaches who are former judo Olympians and five referees who have worked at Olympic Games.

The tournament is expected to bring in 1,000 spectators, 500 hotel nights booked at the Amway Grand Plaza and an estimated $782,169 in economic impact, according to the West Michigan Sports Commission, or WMSC.

“Grand Rapids is second to none in terms of hosting a diverse array of youth and amateur sporting tournaments, and we are pleased to grow that roster of featured sports with the addition of a national judo junior championship such as this,” said Mike Guswiler, president, WMSC.

“And what better way to celebrate the sport than by watching these youth athletes, some of whom may be future Olympic athletes?”

Tickets are $10 per day and $15 for a weekend pass. They can be purchased at the door.

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