Nanjing (China), Aug 17 (IANS) Judo will make its debut at the second Asian Youth Games when the three-day competitions start at the Longjiang Gymnasium Saturday.
Judo, along with other martial arts such as taekwondo, has been included in the Asian Youth Games for the first time. Judo was not included by the organisers of the first Asian Youth Games in Singapore in 2009, reports Xinhua.
South Korea being one of the top judo playing National Olympic Committees (NOCs), is expected to fare well and might dominate, taking an advantage of the absence of another powerhouse Japan.
Both South Korea and Japan shared top spot at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games judo competitions in Singapore by clinching two gold medals each.
According to Judo Union of Asia Technical Delegate, Che Kuong Hui, Japan doesn't have judokas prepared for the Nanjing Games.
"We are not sure and there is no official word why Japan has not sent the entries for judo in these games. But what we have heard is that Japan has no judokas in this age group for this event. They are busy in other competitions, preparing for future events," the technical delegate said.
While Japan's absence will certainly take some gloss off the Asian Youth Games judo competitions, Mongolia, which bagged two bronze at the 2013 World Cadet Championships held from Aug 8 to 11 in Miami, the US, is another strong contender.
Other serious contenders who will be in fray are DPR Korea, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
As India has been suspended for government's interference in Indian Olympic Association's elections by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), its judokas cannot take part in the games under the national flag. They, however, have been allowed to participate as Independent Olympic Athletes (AOI).
Altogether 33 teams are participating in the judo competitions. The boys will take part in the -55kg, -66kg and -81kg categories, while girls in -44kg, -52kg, and -63kg competitions.
Judokas defeated in the quarterfinals will compete in two repechage contests. The winners of the repechage competitions will compete against the losers of the semifinals in the bronze medal playoffs.
On the opening day, gold medals will be decided in the -55kg boys and -44kg girls category. Aug 18, gold medals in the boys -66kg and girls -52kg will be decided, while the three-day action ends Aug 19 with -81kg boys and -63kg gold medal bouts.