By Laman Ismayilova
Azerbaijani judoka Rustam Orujov will bear the country's flag at the Tokyo Summer Olympics on July 23.
Rustam Orujov is the silver medalist of the 2016 Summer Olympics in the men's 73 kg event.
For almost 21 years, Orujov continues to achieve global success enriching the country's medal haul with new victories.
In his statement, Vice-President of the National Olympic Committee Chingiz Huseynzade recalled that at the previous Games, the flag bearer was the gold medalist of the last Olympics.
"Unfortunately, the winner of Rio 2016, taekwondo fighter Radik Isayev could not get a license for the Tokyo Olympics," he added.
The Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo will be held from July 23 to August 8 this year.
Formerly scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9, 2020, the Tokyo Summer Olympics postponed amid coronavirus pandemic.
Despite being rescheduled for 2021, the event retains the Tokyo 2020. This is the first time that the Olympic Games have been postponed and rescheduled, rather than cancelled.
The 2020 Games will mark the second time that Japan has hosted the Summer Olympic Games, the first being also in Tokyo in 1964, making this the first city in Asia to host the Summer Games twice.
The 2020 Games will feature competitions including 3x3 basketball, freestyle BMX, and madison cycling, as well as further mixed events.
Under new IOC policies, which allow the host organizing committee to add new sports to the Olympic program to augment the permanent core events, these Games will see karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding make their Olympic debuts, as well as the return of baseball and softball for the first time since 2008.
Founded in 1972, the Azerbaijani Judo Federation actively promotes this martial art across the country. Since 2015, the Federation has been led by Rovnag Abdullayev.
The country's modern judo history was laid by Mehman Azizov, who won a silver medal at the Old World Championship in 1998.
A year later, the winner of the World Youth Games in Moscow, Rasul Salimov, grabbed the bronze medal at the European Championship in Slovakia. Another national judoka Elchin Ismayilov became the European champion 2000 in Wroclaw.
However, the achievements of Azerbaijani judo fighters did not stop there. Elnur Mammadli was named best at the Beijing Olympics 2008 in the 73 kg division. In the final, he beat Wang Ki-Chun and brought home a gold medal. In Beijing, Movlud Miraliyev enriched the country's medal haul with a bronze medal.
The Beijing Olympics 2008 gave a fresh impetus to judo in Azerbaijan.
The list of the country's top judo fighters includes Rustam Orujov, İrina Kindzerskaya, Mammadali Mehdiyev, Elmar Gasimov, Hidayet Heydarov, Zelim Kotsoev, Ushangi Kokauri and Nijat Shikhalizadeh.
İrina Kindzerskaya also showed her best at judo championships. The final of the Grand Slam in Dusseldorf 2020 also added extra points to Irina in the judo ranking.
Mammadali Mehdiyev is a bronze medalist of the European Games in Minsk. He also finished fifth at the Grand Slam in Osaka, Paris and Dusseldorf.
Elmar Gasimov competed at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and won a silver medal in 2016.
The judo fighter won a gold medal at the 2009 European Youth Championship, after defeating Lukáš Krpálek in the final. He also grabbed bronze at the 2017 World Championships.
Hidayat Heydarov enriched the country's medal haul with a gold medal at the 2017 European Judo Championships. He defeated his teammate Rustam Orujov at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games final.
Zelim Kotsoev became Junior World Champion in Zagreb in 2017 and was also European Junior champion in 2017 in Maribor.
He won the Grand Prix Antalya in 2018 and became European Cadet Champion U18 in 2014 in Athens and in 2015 in Sofia. The judoka took silver at the World Cadet Championships in Sarajevo in 2015.
He also won the European Championships bronze in 2018 in Tel Aviv. Later, he took two bronze medals at the Grand Slam in Düsseldorf and silver in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
Ushangi Kokauri represented Azerbaijan at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He won bronze at the Grand Slam in Paris and Abu Dhabi. He took fifth place at the European Games, the Grand Prix in Antalya and Tel Aviv.
Nijat Shikhalizadeh took second place at the Oceania Open Cup in Perth. He also grabbed a silver medal at the Grand Slam in Baku.
Azerbaijani judokas continue to achieve global successes enriching the country's medal haul with new victories.
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