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2012 Pan-American Championships in Montreal. Behind the curtain.


Behind the curtain.  

April 27/29, 2012 Montreal– Senior Pan-American Championships: the last qualifying event for the 2012 Olympic Team.  Canadians did very well with a gold medal by Alexandre Emond, four individual silver medals by the men, three individual bronze medals by the women, a silver medal by the Canadian male team, and a bronze medal by the Canadian female team.

This article, however, is not about the athletes. Much has been written about their accomplishments already. 

According to many voiced opinions, we delivered the best-to-date Pan-American Championships, and even if that is not the full truth, we were very close to that acclaim. Montreal was a very good place to organize this event.  First of all, it is a world-renowned city, and people like to travel there.  Second, the reliability and competency of the numerous judoka volunteers, without whom running of such event would be impossible, was amazing. Third, and certainly not least, the availability of various Provincial, Municipal, and City programs allowed for much needed funds to be generated.  Without these sources of revenue, delivery of an event that met the current organizational standards of the International Judo Federation would simply be impossible.  

A number of exceptionally dedicated volunteers worked on this project selflessly for months in advance. They took time-off from their regular jobs to work full-time during the week of the event and put in 18-hour shifts – not once complaining that this was not in their job description! 







Thank you Mr. Gerald Poirier (left) and Mr. Christian Royer (right) – the true hearts of the Organizing Committee. 

Thank you to the President of JudoCanada, Mr. Vincent Grifo, who bid for this event, brought it to Canada and then kept relentless pressure on the organizing committee to ensure that a top quality event was delivered in Montreal. Finally, to Ms. Shu-Tai Cheng, who in the weeks leading up to the Championship, supported the Judo Canada staff almost on a full-time basis, providing legal advice and meticulously sorting and cataloguing incoming information.  Imagine, Shu-Tai, how much more work you would have had, had we actually gotten all the information that we were supposed to get on time!

So, we did it, and we are proud of it, but just as much, we are happy it is over.

Why?  A few less-known details and stories may illustrate this. In retrospect these examples may seem quite funny, but trust me, they were not so at the time of occurrence:

  • The deadline for registration, hotel reservations, payments, and so on was on March 29th – four weeks prior to start of the event.  On that date, we had a completed entry from ONE country!
  • Two weeks later, we received entries from approximately 50% of the participants, and such a status quo continued until the last two or three days prior to arrival of the teams.
  • Of the anticipated more than $100,000 in participants’ fees, on the day of accreditation – one day before the tournament started, we accumulated only approximately 30% of that sum. The rest was to be collected during the accreditation and after a (mostly difficult) negotiation with regards to the price and conditions.
  • We expected the arrival of the teams starting April 24th, which is standard for international events that do not involve significant time zone travelling.  On April 19th, we received a telephone call from a team, from which we had not heard anything to date, advising that they were landing in Montreal on April 20th with a rather large number of athletes.  We had no hotel and no personnel ready to take care of this team.  However, we managed to arrange temporary accommodations and airport pick up. Approximately 30 minutes prior to the announced arrival time, we were informed by another call that they would not arrive on that day.  They finally arrived two days later.
  • On April 24th, we had scheduled the setup of the venue. This included a specific setup order of carpet and drapes delivered by a contractor fromOttawa; stages, tables, decorative plants, and so on delivered by City of Montreal; technology support, lights, the sound system, cameras, and so on delivered by two professional crews from Montreal.  Well, the carpet, which needed to be installed first, was delayed at a highway weigh-in station, which prompted the City of Montreal crew (8 to 10 people) to offload their three truckloads of heavy equipment in the centre of the arena and … just leave it there … Their workday was over.  Fortunately, we had THREE professional coaches, in very good physical shape, present at the venue to provide expertise, advice, and help.  They ended up assembling the entire venue!  It took them close to 16 hours to “fix the problem”, but they did it!   


Thank you to all once again!

Andrzej Sadej