Judo at the 1972 Summer Olympics

Dates 31 August – 9 September 1972
Medal Events 6

After the success of the 1964 Olympic judo events, the judo world expected that judo would continue on the Olympic Program, but such was not the case. The sport had been admitted to the 1964 Olympic Program only as an optional sport, and in 1966, when the program for the Mexico City Olympics was announced, judo was not on it. Charles Palmer of Britain had been elected president of the International Judo Federation in 1965, and he began to lobby the IOC to change the ruling eliminating judo. He was told that the IOC had given the Organizing Committee discretion to choose 18 of the 21 Olympic sports, and they did not choose judo. In 1967, Palmer met with the General Assembly of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), who both supported the inclusion of judo on the 1968 program. He then met with the IOC Executive Board and made a presentation. But Lord Burghley, IOC Vice-President interrupted and told Palmer that his presentation was a “waste of time.” He said that the Olympic Charter stated that the program could not be changed after the invitations had been sent out, and then added, “I sent them out this morning.” And thus, no judo was contested at the 1968 Olympics.

There were some changes since the 1964 Olympics. The program was expanded to six divisions – five weight classes and an open category. The format for each class was changed to a now standard one – two single-elimination pools, with those losing to the winner of each pool participating in repêchage pools, to advance four to semi-finals and finals. The judo rules had been changed as well, with greater penalties against passivity now in place. The athletes were different as well, becoming more muscular and adopting the Western style of strength moves, rather than the Japanese skillful techniques. And the Japanese were no longer considered unbeatable, as in 1964. Finally, the length of the matches was shortened. Preliminary round matches lasted six minutes, semi-finals eight minutes, and the finals 10 minutes.


Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Lightweight (≤63 kilograms), Men Olympic 4 September 1972 29 29
Half-Middleweight (≤70 kilograms), Men Olympic 3 September 1972 28 28
Middleweight (≤80 kilograms), Men Olympic 2 September 1972 35 35
Half-Heavyweight (≤93 kilograms), Men Olympic 1 September 1972 29 29
Heavyweight (>93 kilograms), Men Olympic 31 August 1972 19 19
Open Class, Men Olympic 9 September 1972 26 26
148 (148/0) 46 (46/0)


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Lightweight, Men Takao KawaguchiJPN Jean-Jacques Mounier
Kim Yong-Ik
Half-Middleweight, Men Toyokazu NomuraJPN Antoni ZajkowskiPOL Dietmar Hötger
Anatoly Novikov
Middleweight, Men Shinobu SekineJPN Oh Seung-RipKOR Jean-Paul Coche
Brian Jacks
Half-Heavyweight, Men Shota ChochishviliURS David StarbrookGBR Chiaki Ishii
Paul Barth
Heavyweight, Men Wim RuskaNED Klaus GlahnFRG Motoki Nishimura
Givi Onashvili
Open Class, Men Wim RuskaNED Vitaly KuznetsovURS Jean-Claude Brondani
Angelo Parisi

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Japan JPN 3 0 1 4
Netherlands NED 2 0 0 2
Soviet Union URS 1 1 2 4
Great Britain GBR 0 1 2 3
West Germany FRG 0 1 1 2
Poland POL 0 1 0 1
Republic of Korea KOR 0 1 0 1
France FRA 0 0 3 3
Brazil BRA 0 0 1 1
Democratic People's Republic of Korea PRK 0 0 1 1
East Germany GDR 0 0 1 1