Dear members and friends of the World Taekwondo family,
Another busy and successful year has passed for World Taekwondo.
2019 began with the outstanding World Para-Taekwondo Championships in Antalya, Turkey. Nearly 400 athletes from 69 nations took part, making it the biggest tournament in the sport's history and reinforcing the significant growth of para-taekwondo around the world. Para-taekwondo’s growing global status had been confirmed just weeks before, when the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board announced that para-taekwondo will be included in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games after making its debut at Tokyo 2020.
In May, it was the turn of Manchester, Great Britain, to host the 24th World Taekwondo Championships. The city is the birthplace of the World Taekwondo Grand-Prix. A 4D camera rig recorded the action at the semi-finals and finals to provide taekwondo’s global fanbase with 360-degree angles of our athletes’ breath-taking performances. A six-person refugee team competed in the tournament as part of our commitment to providing opportunities to those who need it most. And, we welcomed IOC President Thomas Bach to the event for a second time, following his visit to the World Championships in Muju, Korea, in 2017.
The 2019 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series began in June in the Italian capital of Rome where poomsae was included for the first-time at a Grand Prix event. During the competition, we became the first International Federation to host its awarding ceremony at the historic Colosseum, which was a very special moment for our sport. At that time, the World Taekwondo Demonstration performed across six Italian cities to the delight of taekwondo enthusiasts across the country. The tour was being held under the theme ‘Peace through Taekwondo’ which is a key priority of World Taekwondo.
The Grand Prix Series then made its way to Chiba, Japan in September and Sofia, Bulgaria in October. It was the first-time both cities hosted a World Taekwondo Grand Prix event and it reflected the global appetite to host our events. Moscow, Russia provided the perfect finale to the Series as it hosted the Grand Prix Finals and Gala Awards.
Italy was also host to the Summer Universiade in Naples during which taekwondo offered the third-largest number of medals of any sport. The 2019 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, showcased taekwondo’s up-and-coming young talent.
Supporting our good friends at the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), the World Taekwondo Demonstration Team captivated spectators at the inaugural World Urban Games in Budapest, Hungary in September.
As part of World Taekwondo’s initiative to find new ways to showcase the sport, the third edition of the World Taekwondo Beach Championships took place in Sahl Hasheesh, Egypt in October.
At the World Taekwondo Extraordinary Council Meeting in Moscow, the Council strengthened its policies on governance, anti-doping and athlete welfare. Furthermore, we appointed our first-ever female vice president, IOC Member, Aïcha Garad Ali of Djibouti.
At the same meeting, World Taekwondo welcomed the Faroe Islands Taekwondo Federation as our 210th Member National Association (MNA).
During the year, we once again honored our commitment to fulfilling our social responsibility and leveraging the power of taekwondo for good. We conducted a series of joint demonstration events with the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of taekwondo’s inclusion into the Olympic Movement. Events took place in Vienna, Austria; in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne; and at the United Nations Office in Geneva, with IOC President, Thomas Bach, and the United Nations Office Director General, Michael Moller, among the distinguished guests.
To ensure all athletes are involved in the build up to the Tokyo 2020 Games, World Taekwondo funded 19 Olympic hopefuls as part of the ‘Booyoung Dream Programme’ in Muju, Korea.
World Taekwondo was recognised for its ongoing commitment to reducing its carbon footprint through the joint IOC-DOW “Carbon Initiative Award”, as we continue to pave the way to building a more sustainable future.
World Taekwondo received FISU’s ‘Best International Sports Federation’ award in recognition of the federation’s significant contribution to the development of the University Sports Movement. Universiade veteran, Armin Hadipour, was awarded ‘Best Male Athlete’ following his third consecutive gold medal at the 2019 Summer Universiade. We also signed an MoU with FISU to create Sport Peace Corps.
Our flagship charity programme, the Humanitarian Taekwondo Center at the Azraq camp in Jordan for Syrian refugees, went from strength to strength and by the end of 2019 had graduated nine black belts including two female.
We collaborated with United World Wrestling (UWW) to host the “Aspire2gether for Peace” event, which was attended by Jordanian royalty, taekwondo and wrestling athletes. Through the event, we showed we are ready to work with all sports to provide hope and inspiration to refugees and displaced people.
World Taekwondo also held the opening ceremony of the World Taekwondo Cares Projects in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
We signed MoUs with five Olympic International Federations (IFs): Wrestling, Judo, Badminton, Table Tennis, and Hockey. We also signed with two non-Olympic IFs: Muay Thai and Sambo. We expect to sign with more IFs in 2020.
All of these achievements over the past year would not have been possible without your hard work and support.
But even following such a successful year, we are still confident we can achieve even more in 2020. It is, of course, an Olympic year, with the Games being hosted in Tokyo, Japan. But it is also the 20th anniversary of taekwondo being included in the Olympic Games having first been included at Sydney 2000. We have come a very long way in the last 20 years and Olympic inclusion has helped to elevate taekwondo into a truly global sport.
That said, we continue to innovate and push boundaries and taekwondo in Tokyo 2020 will see three notable firsts
A mixed-team demonstration will take place between the regular matches, showcasing this highly entertaining format. For maximum visual impact, a 4D camera rig will be used for the first-time at the Olympics and the new competition uniform will be showcased during the Games.
And our para-athletes will make their debut at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. I am fully convinced that para-taekwondo will be very successful in the Paralympics.
With the battle for Olympic qualification slots now underway across all continents, I wish all athletes - including, those refugees fighting under the WT flag - the very best of luck.
I wish all friends and family a happy end to 2019 and look forward to working with you to make 2020 a successful Olympic and Paralympic year and a great year for World Taekwondo.
Yours in taekwondo,
President, World Taekwondo