What you need to know about the 2018 IJF Judo World Championships in Baku

The world championships in Azerbaijan will have the same format as the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The 2018 IJF Judo World Championships will take place from 20–27 September in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Over 750 judoka from 125 countries will go head-to-head across seven male and seven female weight divisions for a chance to become world champion.

Eight days of judo with the same format as the Tokyo 2020 Games will give both current champs and rising stars an opportunity to shine on the tatami.

No Teddy

The presence of the best judoka on the planet has judo fans excited but the headlines have been grabbed by a big absence.

Teddy Riner is arguably the world's most dominant athlete in any sport.

The 29-year-old, 2.03-metre-tall (6 ft 8 in) Guadeloupe native is undefeated since 2010 with a 144-match winning streak.

That includes Olympic gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016 with world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Riner has decided to skip the world championships in 2018 and 2019 to prioritise Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024.

Find out why 10-time winner Teddy Riner is missing the worlds

Find out why 10-time winner Teddy Riner is missing the worlds

Heavyweight title up for grabs

With Riner not taking part in Azerbaijan, the +100kg men's division is wide open.

Who can step out of the Frenchman's shadow?

Georgia's Guram Tushishvili and Brazilian David Moura are the favourites but anything is possible in a very close field.

Czech contender Lukas Krpalek is ranked third in the world and could make his mark on this competition, and look out also for a strong Japanese challenge as this is the weight category they value most.

Unified Korean team

North and South Korea will join forces again in Baku in the mixed team event, scheduled to be held on the final day of the Championships on 27 September.

Three male and four female judoka from North Korea are set to team up with their Southern counterparts following on from similar joint efforts at PyeongChang 2018 and the Asian Games in Indonesia.

However, the two countries will send separate delegations for the men’s and women’s individual competitions.

The unified team with compete in the mixed event, which is due to make its debut on the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020, under the unification flag.

Teenage judo prodigy

Look out for 17-year-old Ukranian sensation Daria Bilodid in Baku.

Last year, she became European champion in Warsaw at -48kg level aged just 16, and then won the IJF Grand Prix in The Hague.

Judo runs in her blood — she's the daughter of former men's European champion and three-time Olympian Gennadiy Bilodid.

The younger Bilodid is the only judoka to take all three major age-group European titles — Cadet, Junior and Senior — in one year.

She has dominated 2018 so far, winning the Tunis and Zagreb Grands Prix along with the Paris and Düsseldorf Grand Slams.

Watch closely, as we may watching a future Olympic champ in action in Azerbaijan.

Brother–sister act

Hifumi Abe promised much when he topped the half-lightweight division the Nanjing Youth Olympics in 2014 and then beating world champion Masashi Ebinuma in the same year.

Nicknamed 'The Flamethrower', Abe brought the heat to the 2017 World Championship in Budapest where he won the −66kg title.

He will be travelling to Azerbaijan together with his 18-year-old sister Uta, who is scheduled to fight on the same day at the tournament.

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