Lausanne, Switzerland (Nov. 14, 2023) – The Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) Board of Trustees met at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) headquarters on November 14th. During the meeting the Board discussed special achievements, financial statements 2023, program reports in and outside the refugee camps, as well as potential developments and partnerships for 2024.
It was the third time the Board meeting has been hosted at the WBSC headquarters in Pully, Switzerland and it saw the participation of all 8 trustees as well as the participation of 6 observers: Jeongkang SEO (WT Secretary General), Metin Sahin (WT Council Member), Ali Sagirkaya (WT Auditor), Prof. Luc Reychler (former consultant for the THF), Justin Hou, THF Ambassador and IOC Culture & Heritage Commission Member and Ambassador Young-sun Kim (WT Senior Advisor).
THF Chairman, Dr. Chungwon Choue, expressed on behalf of the Board, his deepest appreciation to the WBSC President and good friend of the THF, Mr. Ricardo Fraccari, for his kind hospitality and friendship. The Chairman Choue reminded the Board that 2023 has been the year of the World Taekwondo Golden Jubilee in which a series of meaningful events have been held to commemorate World Taekwondo’s 50th Founding Anniversary. Commemorative activities extended to the THF, with the creation of the inaugural Hope and Dreams Sport Festival in Jordan, jointly promoted with the WBSC, which introduced Baseball5 to refugee children from Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps.
Chairman Choue praised the activities and achievements, the THF in 2023 including being awarded the “Combat Sport Initiative of the year at the Peace and Sport Awards 2023, held in Riyadh, on October 18th. This award recognizes the impactful work of the THF and WT in supporting underprivileged communities around the world. As the IOC President Thomas Bach mentioned during the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai (India), the sport of Taekwondo is playing a leading role in helping the global refugee crisis.
Chairman Choue also thanked Mr. Justin Hou, a member of the IOC Culture and Heritage Commission and the husband of two-time Olympic champion Wu Jingyu. They were both involved in the THF’s first project activation with the United World Wrestling in 2019. Due to his passion for Taekwondo and as a great communicator, Mr Hou has been appointed a THF Ambassador for China. Earlier this year, Mr Hou and Jingyu donated USD 12,000 to the THF, which was completed with an additional USD 5,000 that was presented during the Board meeting. The THF Chairman warmly thanked Mr. Hou for his donation this year.
The THF programs were reviewed and the excellent achievements were discussed including in the Azraq Refugee Camp (Jordan) which has produced 100 black belts since the beginning of the program in 2016, and in Malindza (Eswatini), where THF refugee athletes won 3 medals in Poomsae (2x gold and 1x silver) and 10 medals in Kyorugi categories (4x gold, 3x silver, 3x bronze), at the 2023 Next Generation Championships. The Championships attracted the participation of more than 500 athletes from over 13 countries including the United Kingdom, USA and Greece. In Kiziba (Rwanda), 98 THF refugee athletes passed their belt degrees.
Out of the camps, Chairman Choue stated that Taekwondo is the second largest sport in terms of number of Olympic Scholarship holders, declaring: “Our aim is to raise their standards. Ultimately, our goal is to produce the first Olympic medal to be won by a Taekwondo refugee athlete from the Olympic Scholarship programs.”
In relation to the program Terrains d’Avenir, in Paris, a video portrait featuring THF’s coach and a member of the French Taekwondo National Team, Azizjan Tadjibaev, originally from Kyrgyzstan, was shown to the participants. In the video, Azizjan speaks of his integration as a refugee in French society and how Taekwondo acted as a driver in his life, up to receiving French nationality.
As a signatory of the UNHCR and IOC Sports Coalition, World Taekwondo and THF are committed to promote and facilitate equal access to and participation in sporting events and competitions at all levels for refugees. In some countries around the world refugee athletes continue to be blocked from participation in sport. Participation in the Global Refugee Forum 2023, in Geneva, has been announced. The Forum held every four years, is the world’s largest international gathering on refugees to discuss how to ease pressure on host countries, enhance refugee self- resilience, increase access to third country solutions and improve conditions in countries of origin.