|Marius Vizer- President, IJF|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 11 May 2012 12:55
Marius Vizer is President of the IJF (International Judo Federation.)
Marius's education was based around the military (secondary & academy) in Romania, where he specialized in Chemistry. Furthermore, Marius has spent nearly his whole life in Judo. He was a talented athlete from the age of 16 until 1982 and went onto coach the sport from 1982-95, achieving some impressive results with his athletes along the way. The Gold medal achieved with Alexandru Lungu at the 1994 Junior World Championship in Cairo, Egypt was arguably his finest achievement as coach. In 1995, he was named as Honorary President of the Romanian Judo Federation, where he remained for 3 years. In 1998, Marius was elected as President of the Federation where he held the position for another two years. From 2000-2007 he held the position as the President of the European Judo Union where he was responsible for developing judo throughout Europe by creating yearly World Cups and Super World Cups in prime capitals of Europe, which promoted Judo in Europe to high levels and increased exposure of the sport. In 2007, Marius was chosen to be the new President of the International Judo Federation, where he continues to hold this position.
During his role as President of the IJF, Marius has had a leading role in implementing several reforms in Judo, which has led to a considerable development of the sport:
• Created the World Judo Tour (a series of annual competitions consisting of 5 Grand Prix, 4 Grand Slams and at the end of each season the World Masters)
• World Championships organized yearly
• Introduced the World Ranking List
• Rebranded the image of International Judo and of the IJF
• Developed and implemented a new marketing strategy which increased global visibility of Judo
• Established relations with major international broadcasters to the extent that the 2012 World Championship was broadcasted in over 130 territories
• Attracted new strong sponsors to Judo which allowed for many development projects to be undertaken and over 2 million USD of donations per year to be granted
• Implemented over 1.5 million USD of annual prize money
• Gave Judo a social dimension by establishing Judo for Peace and Judo for Children programs
• Working towards evolving Judo into a mass sport
By Marc Sibbons
You have been the President of the IJF since 2007, what would consider the most challenging aspect of your current role? What have been your greatest achievements so far?
The most challenging aspect of my activity is probably the media development. Concerning my achievements, the most important is the general reform of Judo, which I started as soon as I took over as President of the IJF and which applies to all the fields of activity within our organization: technology, media, marketing, finance, logistics, promotion of new development programs like Judo for Children, Judo for Peace.
Could you tell us a bit about your career background? Have you always been interested in contact sports like Judo? How did you first get your break into the sports business industry?
I was athlete, coach, President of the Romanian Judo Federation, President of the European Judo Union and now President of the International Judo Federation. I went through all the levels of our sport, which allowed me fully understand the entire spectrum of Judo.
How has your practical experience in Judo helped you become successful in your current role? Greatest memories as a young judo athlete?
Judo has always played an important role in my private life as well as in my professional career – business. For me it was always a “path” to be followed, a life style, according to the principles of judo, whose father was Professor Jigoro Kano. From my athlete career, I keep unforgettable memories, but for me it was a difficult period, that coincided with the beginnings of my military career, as I was in a military school from the age of 14 to the age of 22. Judo was my passion, as well as my refuge.
How important are the Olympic Games to the growth of the sport, both in sporting terms and business terms – the exposure?
I consider that the Olympic Games are the highest spiritual and sports expression of the humankind, an event where participation represents the dream of any nation and as a result, for any athlete it is a moment that will leave its mark on his life forever.
With the Olympic Games creeping up on London 2012, how are overall preparations shaping up for associated nations participating In the Judo events?
The Olympic Games 2012 is a major event for Great Britain, while for all the participating nations, it is an intense race of preparation at all levels. In Judo, we have athletes qualified from over 115 countries, which makes us one of the most diversified sports and I believe that each country and each athlete are looking forward to the competition with excitement and the highest hopes
What impact do you hope Judo will have on the London 2012 Olympics?
The London Olympics is for all sports and for the entire population of the Globe, a top competition and I think that it will have a great impact on the entire judo movement and it will be a crucial moment for re-launching the Judo activity that follows the Olympic Games.
Has there been an increase in TV coverage of Judo events over the last 20 years? What are the statistical differences between male/female events?
In the past 6 years, we have an absolute positive increase of media coverage in our sport, but there is no real difference between our male and female competitions in our sport, as we have the same competitions, the same number of categories, the same prize money and same rules applying for both male and female athletes. Therefore, media coverage is the same.