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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Tokyo first stop as UAEJJF announces dates for Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour

Grand Slam Tokyo will be held on July 29 as the Japanese capital will be one of five cities across four continents to host the annual series in 2018/19. The other cities are Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Abu Dhabi and London

Faisal Al Ketbi will be among those will compete in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. Victor Besa / The National
Faisal Al Ketbi will be among those will compete in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. Victor Besa / The National

The new Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu World Tour season kicks off in Tokyo, the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) announced on Thursday.

Grand Slam Tokyo will be held on July 29 as the Japanese capital will be one of five cities across four continents to host the annual series in 2018/19. The other cities are Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Abu Dhabi and London.

“These five host cities are a key part of UAEJJF’s international expansion strategy,” chairman Abdulmunam Al Hashemi said.

“The demand and growth from our fans to continue to bring live events to these cities has been overwhelming, and with the vast potential these markets hold for us, we are delighted once again to bring the most prestigious jiu-jitsu world tour back to Tokyo, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Abu Dhabi and London,” said Al Hashemi, who is also president of the Jiu-Jitsu Asian Union and senior vice-president of Jiu-Jitsu International Federation.

The Grand Slam is open to all nationalities and medallists will be listed in the world rankings. Combined cash prizes of more than US$800,000 (Dh2.9 million) will also be awarded to the top athletes of each division.

The top three academies will also receive cash prizes in each host city and top-ranked competitors will receive prizes at the end of the season according to the UAEJJF World Ranking.

In short, this competition is huge and millions are tuning in.

“Last season the Grand Slam was watched by more than 11 million fans around the world through our 18 broadcast partners in more than 100 countries,” UAEJJF chief executive Fahad Al Shamsi said.

Also important to note is how quickly the Grand Slam has risen in popularity.

A case in point is Japan, according to Takamasa Watanabe, president of Jiu-Jitsu Federation of Japan.

“Japan has a deep historical connection with martial arts, thanks to UAEJJF, who has changed the face of the sport of jiu-jitsu in recent times over here,” Watanabe said.

The man responsible for the organisation of the event in the United States welcomed the series - with a “distinctly international flavour” - back to the country.

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“The Grand Slam always brings a mix of champions and contenders from various weight divisions," Gustavo Muggiati said, "and up-and-coming stars from the country but also internationally are sure to entertain all our fans here."

Brazil remains the sport's biggest market and Walter Mattos, president of the Jiu-Jitsu Federation Brazil, is excited to host the Grand Slam at the Carioca Arena again.

“Abu Dhabi Grand Slam has quickly grown in popularity here in Brazil, thanks to its world-class organisation and exposure,” he said. “We know the fans in Brazil will make the Carioca Arena an absolutely electric atmosphere on November 16, 17 and 18.”

Gustavo Oliveira, the event organiser in the United Kingdom, said it has seen significant international growth with nearly a third of all the live events now held outside the UAE.

“London is one of the world’s major capital cities and is a fitting host to the Grand Slam,” Oliveira said.