Host City: München, West Germany
Date Started: August 31, 1972
Date Finished: August 31, 1972
Participants: 148 (148 men and 0 women) from 46 countries
Youngest Participant: Juan Chalas (16 years, 60 days)
Oldest Participant: Fernando García (37 years, 145 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Wim Ruska (2 medals)
Most Medals (Country): Soviet Union and Japan (4 medals)
After the success of the 1964 Olympic judo events, the judo world expected that judo would continue on the Olympic Program, but such was not the case. The sport had been admitted to the 1964 Olympic Program only as an optional sport, and in 1966, when the program for the Mexico City Olympics was announced, judo was not on it. Charles Palmer of Britain had been elected president of the International Judo Federation in 1965, and he began to lobby the IOC to change the ruling eliminating judo. He was told that the IOC had given the Organizing Committee discretion to choose 18 of the 21 Olympic sports, and they did not choose judo. In 1967, Palmer met with the General Assembly of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), who both supported the inclusion of judo on the 1968 program. He then met with the IOC Executive Board and made a presentation. But Lord Burghley, IOC Vice-President interrupted and told Palmer that his presentation was a “waste of time.” He said that the Olympic Charter stated that the program could not be changed after the invitations had been sent out, and then added, “I sent them out this morning.” And thus, no judo was contested at the 1968 Olympics.
There were some changes since the 1964 Olympics. The program was expanded to six divisions – five weight classes and an open category. The format for each class was changed to a now standard one – two single-elimination pools, with those losing to the winner of each pool participating in repêchage pools, to advance four to semi-finals and finals. The judo rules had been changed as well, with greater penalties against passivity now in place. The athletes were different as well, becoming more muscular and adopting the Western style of strength moves, rather than the Japanese skillful techniques. And the Japanese were no longer considered unbeatable, as in 1964. Finally, the length of the matches was shortened. Preliminary round matches lasted six minutes, semi-finals eight minutes, and the finals 10 minutes.