Dear global taekwondo family and friends,
The year 2015 will go down as one of the most successful years in taekwondo’s history. At the beginning of the year we received the very welcome news that taekwondo would be included in the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020. This was a huge honor for taekwondo and truly makes us a “sport for all.”
We also witnessed the most successful World Taekwondo Championships the WTF has ever hosted– I offer our sincerest thanks to all those in Chelyabinsk, Russia, who did such a wonderful job as hosts.
Following the World Championships, we saw the four Grand Prix events take place in Moscow, Russia; Samsun, Turkey; Manchester, GB; and Mexico City, Mexico. Throughout the Grand Prix, we were treated to exciting and dramatic competitions which highlighted the global strength of our sport. By the time the finals were over, 48 elite taekwondo athletes had won quota places for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We also hosted the second annual WTF Gala Awards which took place in Mexico’s historic National Theatre and celebrated the outstanding achievements of athletes, coaches and referees.
In 2016 we will look to build on the success of 2015 and continue to identify ways of evolving and improving our sport for the benefit of athletes and fans.
2016 will see the World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships take place in Lima, Peru, showcasing the artistic side of our sport. I am personally looking forward to seeing how the creative and extreme versions of taekwondo poomsae have developed.
As we announced in our recent WTF Council meeting, the Canadian city of Burnaby will host the World Junior Taekwondo Championships in 2016. This important tournament will give us all a close look at the pipeline of global talent that will be feeding competitive taekwondo in the years ahead.
As part of our commitment to innovating our events, we will introduce the 1st WTF World Beach Taekwondo Championships in June this year in Bali, Indonesia. Beach sports have grown dramatically in popularity, particularly among young people, in recent years and the World Beach Taekwondo Championships will bring something fresh and exciting to a whole new audience. We also hope to see taekwondo included in the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games in San Diego, the United States in 2017.
But most importantly, 2016 is an Olympic year. The Olympic Games are the very pinnacle for our athletes and provide them with the ultimate platform to showcase their exceptional talent on the global stage. The 2015 Grand Prix series has granted our elite-level fighters more comprehensive, professionally staged competitive experiences than ever before. Now, they all know each other’s games, and fierce, but friendly rivalries are in play in every weight category. Our athletes are ready to thrill and excite the Olympic audience with their fast and precise techniques in Rio. Following the success of taekwondo at London 2012, where we saw medals won by more countries than ever before, I have no doubt Rio 2016 will provide one of the finest moments in our sporting history.
In the early months of 2016, continental Olympic qualification tournaments and wild cards will give those athletes who did not qualify via the Grand Prix series their chance to secure their NOCs Olympic places.
The WTF is first and foremost a sport organization, but we are also always working to fulfill our social responsibility as an International Federation. In this vein, in early 2015, we came up with the idea of establishing a new body, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF).
The THF will assist refugees and displaced persons by providing them with the opportunity to learn and participate in taekwondo. Organizations already exist that supply refugees with the bare essentials of food and drink, shelter and medicine. We will not replicate these efforts. Instead, the THF will harness the power of taekwondo to teach refugees understanding, self-discipline and respect, and encourage them to live healthy lifestyles.
As WTF President, it was an honor and a privilege for me to formally announce the THF to the world at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 21 on the 2015 U.N. International Day of Peace.
The THF is being officially set up in the WTF’s Lausanne office. The establishment of a charitable foundation is a detailed and time consuming process that cannot be rushed. But I am pleased to report that the THF has already kicked off pilot projects in two Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, with the full backing and cooperation of Jordanian authorities. All early indications are positive.
In 2016, the THF will begin full-scale operations. Already, we are planning a second pilot project in earthquake-struck Nepal. We are also aligning our efforts with those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office, which we expect will advise us on suitable locations for future THF projects, most probably in refugee camps in Africa and Latin America.
Across all our operations we will ensure that we are fully aligned with the International Olympic Committee and the principles of good governance. Good governance has always been, and remains, a key priority of the WTF. This was reflected in our strategic roadmap for 2016 which outlines five key areas that the WTF will prioritize in 2016 to ensure that the federation continues to grow and develop in line with international best practice.
With the full support of our global taekwondo family members, I strongly believe that 2016 can be our most successful year yet.
The WTF’s slogan for 2016 is “One Taekwondo, One World.” I am entirely confident that our organization will deliver on this promise this year. To achieve this, the WTF leadership hopes to leverage the full support of the global taekwondo family. We will do it together again in 2016.
In this spirit, I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year.
Yours in taekwondo,
World Taekwondo Federation