Olympics will be the next stop for jiu-jitsu, with the 2024 Games the most likely target

UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation chief executive says still plenty of hurdles to overcome during launch ceremony of 2016 Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, to run from April 15-24

From left: Nasser Omar al Braiki (UAE), Mackenzie Dern (USA) and Marcus Almeida (Brazil) during a press conference to announce the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championships Tuesday at Park Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
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ABU DHABI // The Olympic Games will be the next stop for jiu-jitsu, with the 2024 Games the most likely target, according to the chief executive of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

Jiu-Jitsu made its debut at the Asian Beach Games in Phuket in 2014. Since then, it has been included at the 2017 Asian Indoor Games in Turkmenistan, the inaugural 2017 World Beach Games in San Diego, California, and the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

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Abdulmunam Al Hashemi, chairman of the UAEJJF, and Sheikh Ahmed Al Sabah confirmed the sport’s inclusion at the World Beach Games at yesterday’s launch ceremony of the eighth Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship, to be held at the Ipic Arena at Zayed Sports City, from April 15-24.

San Diego won the hosting rights to the 10-day Olympic-style, multi-sport event by the Association of National Olympic Committees ahead of bids from Dubai, Sochi, Barcelona and Istanbul.

The World Beach Games will feature more than 20 sports, including beach tennis, football, volleyball, surfing, jet skiing, triathlon, track and field, and basketball.

“There are several challenges to overcome, perhaps, we may be looking at the 2024 Olympics,” said Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, chief executive and a member of the UAEJJF’s board of directors, when asked about jiu-jitsu being included at an Olympics.

Marcus Almeida, the three-time winner of the absolute class at the Abu Dhabi World Pro, welcomed the move.

“It’s awesome jiu-jitsu has been included at the inaugural World Beach Games and now working towards the Olympic Games,” the Brazilian said.

“I still don’t know how it works in terms of qualifying for the Beach Games but I’m sure jiu-jitsu enthusiasts and players all over the world welcome the idea for the sheer fact that our sport is growing in stature and going places.

“If jiu-jitsu is included at the 2024 Olympics, I will be 34 and still around, if I stay injury-free. It is the dream of every athlete to compete at the Olympics and I’m no different.

“As a jiu-jitsu player I never thought this sport will be in the Olympics. That’s changing and now I’m more realistic that there is a possibility it will be at the Olympics, if not in 2024, maybe in the future.”

Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi World Pro, extended to 10 days this year, has drawn more than 6,000 players from over 100 countries vying for a slice of the Dh2.5 million prize money.

“We at the federation are very excited to welcome international players to the global capital of jiu-jitsu for what will be a momentous occasion for all,” said Al Hashemi.

“Thanks to the ever-growing popularity of jiu-jitsu globally and regionally we are delighted to see our programme grow to incorporate two additional days of competition for the adults, meaning that fans can enjoy nine days of competition.”

According to Al Shamsi, there are over 76,000 Emirati players, including 15,000 females, practicing the sport. He added that the federation had so far received 6,230 entries for this year’s tournament.

Among them are Almeida and the women’s defending champion Mackenzie Dern of the United States.

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