For weeks, the world watched in bewilderment what was happening in Ukraine. The Judo family doesn’t just look, it also acts. The arrival of hundreds of young judo players in Hungary has proven this again, who are now able to find some peace of mind after fleeing the war.
A few weeks ago, 300 young people under the age of 18 took refuge in Romania (read the news), while others were held in Germany (read the news). Countries that aided Ukraine in the early days of the conflict since 24 February were present and actively supported millions of families fleeing their country.
Coordinated by the International Judo Federation, Action Without Borders (click here) brings together a growing number of judo clubs looking to contribute to refugee aid efforts, while the IJF is in regular contact with other organisations to optimise aid.
Today, we are pleased to announce that hundreds of young judo athletes, many of whom have lost their homes, have regained hope as they cross the border to Hungary.
IJF President Marius Vizer commented: “This action by the International Judo Federation is a concrete example of the judo values that guide all our endeavours. I’m glad we can provide a safe environment for these children and young people to live a normal life and continue to focus on judo until things improve in their country. Thanks to the Hungarian government and the Hungarian Judo Association for their support. Our teams worked flawlessly together with maximum efficiency, and I continue to be impressed by Hungary’s solidarity and humanistic care for all Ukrainian refugees.“
Lazslo Toth, President of the Hungarian Judo Association (HJA), explained:We bring children from Ukraine. The idea was proposed by IJF President Marius Vizer and coordinated by his office.
We found three hundred children between the ages of 7 and 17, all judo athletes,Toth continued. “Many people have not only lost their homes, but also live in cities devastated by the Ukrainian bombings. Teens will be accompanied and escorted by twenty adults who are all judo instructors.
This is a very important step because it goes beyond providing financial aid. We’re talking about saving lives, protecting them and supporting their future.“
The plan is divided into two phases. The first is for children and their companions to leave the country through the border with Hungary. This is the most dangerous part. The second is more complicated because it involves rebuilding a broken life.
Dr Toth added, “It’s not just about practicing judo. You have to provide for these kids to go to school because they are learning online and have to find shelter, bed and food for them and fund everything. This will be possible with the approval and support of the Hungarian government.
We thank the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Sport for their swift action. Now that the EU has announced the establishment of a rapid reaction force, the Hungarian government’s response was immediate. We have experienced absolute synergy in such a short period of time in a critical situation resulting from an armed conflict.“
Laszlo Toth continued, “I’ve done a lot of things, organized a lot of competitions and events, but I’ve never done anything like this. For me, it’s an honor and a moral obligation.“
The road to freedom is always tortuous and dangerous, but it is the one that must be followed. Maybe one day we’ll see those kids become champions, or even judo legends. Then we’ll all remember the day they crossed the border to sleep, eat and train like normal kids. We will remember this thanks to Judo, with the help of all those who act for and defend humanity.