Russian president Vladimir Putin and fellow world leaders took time away from the Eastern Economic Forum Thursday to enjoy a shared passion — judo.
Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga were all in attendance for the International Vladivostok Jigoro Kano Junior Judo Tournament.
All three are keen advocates of the sport. Putin is a black belt, while Battugla was head of his country’s judo federation and a wrestling World Cup champion in 1989.
Speaking to the press Japan’s Olympic gold medalist Yasuhiro Yamashita at the Eastern Economic Forum, Abe suggested he challenge Putin to a judo contest, according to Russian media reports.
Putin’s love for judo has helped the sport develop a keen following in Russia, according to judokas present in Vladivostok.
“I think the fact that Putin loves judo does help it to be a more popular sport,” judo master Vladimir Sinistin said.
“And if your leader does judo and has an athletic title, and Putin is a master of this sport, of course this sport gets more attention.