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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK

Tailor-made for Manchester

BBC Sport Online's Mike Burnett explains why judo has had to wait 12 years for its second appearance at the Commonwealth Games.

Martial arts fans will be pleased to see that Manchester 2002 marks the long-awaited return of judo to the Commonwealth Games agenda.

It has been 12 years since the popular sport made its first and, until now, only appearance at the Games.

On that occasion, England emerged the clear winners, grabbing 14 out of the 16 gold medals on offer in Auckland, New Zealand.

Whether they can repeat their medal haul in Manchester remains to be seen, but many fans will be hoping that judo will become the true victor of this year's Games.

Judo's conspicuous absence from the last two Games in Victoria, Canada, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, owes much to organising body's system of decision-making.

In contrast to the Olympics, which are forced to consider an ever-growing list of events, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) prefers to keep things simple.

Athletics and swimming are compulsory, but a host city does have some say over other events that are included at their Games.

From a list of around 20 sports, a host city's organising committee chooses a programme of at least 10.

For example, archery is on the CGF's official list, but will not be on the agenda at Manchester.

Despite notching up 10 medals in the Commonwealth Games' inaugural judo competition in 1990, Canadians opted for wrestling four years later in Victoria.

But judo is back, not only returning for this year's Games, but having also been pencilled in for Melbourne in 2006.

This lack of a consistent programme is bound to frustrate hard-core enthusiasts of sports that find themselves constantly on the edge of selection.

But it does allow each host nation to stamp their own unique identity on the Games, and put local interests first.

Certainly, this is vital for helping developing nations in places such as Africa to take on the heavy financial burden of hosting the Games.

No country, rich or poor, would wish to build expensive facilities which might not be used when the Games are over.

And if nations with fewer financial resources are to be encouraged to host the Commonwealth Games, they need to know that they will not have to break the bank to do it.

Of course, some cynics may argue that some host nations might be more motivated by the possible improvement in their medal tally.

But, although England are likely to do well out of judo's inclusion this year, there is no doubt that competitors from all over the Commonwealth will do the utmost to keep their success in check.


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