That unmistakable smell and feel of the tatami … The texture of rough cotton fibers of the judogi in every grip … The salty taste of the sweat drops trickling down your face into your mouth at every bout … That euphoric feeling when you score with Ippon … Recognizable? I bet it is. It’s judo of course. More than a sport. For many, a lifestyle.

The countdown clock in front of the venue
In Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, host city of the 2018 IJF World Championship, the countdown towards IJF’s main event is gradually reaching its final point. D-day is near. Less than three days to go until the first throws will land judokas on the impeccably outlined tatami.
The countdown clock that can be found in front of the ‘Milli Gymnastika Arenasi’ – or short MGA -, this Worlds’ competition venue, confirms. Traffic passing by cannot ignore it. Tick tock, tick tock … hours, minutes and seconds are fleeing, igniting the anticipation of the 800 plus athletes anxious to show their craft and mastery of grips and throws.

OB Vans for TV transmission are being set up.
However, while the athletes are building up their momentum to shine on center stage, simultaneously another type of competitor is racing against time. The men and women behind the scenes. The invisible army of maintenance workers, arena personnel, TV crews and security guards, who’ve been working around the clock to get the MGA ready for showtime. With few days left, the competition venue is already as busy as a beehive with many workers adding the final touch. The clock is ticking … remember?
But let us assure you. When it’s time to rumble, this venue will be ready. Signs and branding are up. Empty official boxes are waiting for their time officials, unoccupied media stands are longing for their journalists to be seated to bring unforgettable stories of heroic feats on these athletic battle grounds, while in the meantime a platoon of OB vans is lined up outside the building, ready to send the TV signals into the wide world. You can sense it … Anticipation grows … It’s almost showtime folks!

The tatami area is almost ready to welcome its first judoka.
Some Facts about the Competition Venue The Milli Gymnastika Arenasi or National Gymnastics Arena can seat around 9,000 persons and is located near the Koroglu Metro station on the Heydar Aliyev Highway, which is the main route in and out of the city from the Airport.
The MGA is primarily destined to host Rhythmic and Artistic Gymnastics at competition level. However, the main hall of the venue is specifically designed as a multipurpose arena to host a variety of events. Hence, its ability to expand from 5,000 to 9,000 seats, depending on the size and nature of the event it is hosting. A very impressive design has been implemented on the seats that retract in and out of the arena floor to provide the required seating for each event. With this technology the Arena can be large and grand to host big events, and small and intimate for smaller ones such as Rhythmic Gymnastics.

Last tatami are being prepared for the great show.
On a day to day basis the MGA hosts gymnasts training for international competitions. The facilities for training gymnasts include offices, training halls, auditoriums and a gymnasium. There are also boarding facilities at the venue for 59 persons. Moreover, a cafeteria has been included for athletes training at the Arena on a daily basis.
The Arena counts two main concourse levels with food and beverage outlets, in between them, on the middle level, various size luxury boxes for hosting VIP’s can be found. The box level also has two large cafeterias on each wing to accommodate large VIP/Sponsors gatherings during the events.
Needless to say, all the requirements for international media expected of today’s world class sporting venues, from interview rooms and media control center to media press rooms are present as well.

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