On Friday, World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) took steps to try to get taekwondo on the Paralympic program for the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo by submitting their final application for inclusion to the International Paralympic Committee. This followed their initial submission of intent submitted in January of this year. The sport was short listed for inclusion at an IPC meeting in March. The sport is in consideration alongside para-badminton.
WTF President Chungwon Choue is quoted in a WTF press release about their application as saying,
“This is a historic moment for para-taekwondo and for me personally. Getting para-taekwondo into the Paralympic Games is a personal passion of mine and priority number one for the WTF. We hope that the IPC Governing Board will see that we are committed to being a valuable and loyal partner and that the unique qualities of our sport will add real value to the Paralympic Programme.
“We have been working very closely with the IPC and the IOSDs to make sure that the sport develops in line with best practices, but there is still room for further development. We are focused on improving the quality, quantity and universality of the sport and we are confident that if we have the honour of being included on the Paralympic Programme, fans will be treated to a fair, safe and exciting spectacle in Tokyo in 2020.”
WTF Secretary General Jean-Marie Ayer is quoted in the same WTF press release as saying,
“It is our aim to make para-taekwondo as accessible to as many people around the world as possible and we have established a strong foundation to achieve that. We have fully integrated para-taekwondo within the same structure as taekwondo allowing para-athletes to join existing taekwondo clubs where there is very little difference between their training and minimal equipment required.
“We are working closely with our 206 MNAs to encourage and incentivise them to promote para-taekwondo within their countries and realise the full potential of the sport. If we had the honour of being included in the Paralympic Programme it would act as a catalyst for even greater growth. As the first combat sport in the Paralympic Games accessible to the full range of upper limb deficiency and arm amputee athletes, para-taekwondo would open the Games to new audiences, new markets and a whole new generation of athletes.”
The Para-Taekwondo Committee was created by WTF in 2005. In 2013, at the WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships, the Para-Taekwondo Development Task Force was created with members of the WTF and guests from CPISRA and INAS. Following this, a memorandum of understanding was signed. As a result, Para-Taekwondo Poomsae will be included at the next WTF world championships in 2015, and the sport will be a demonstration sport at the 2015 INAS Global Games and the 2015 CPISRA World Games. Later in the year, the IPC officially recognised WTF as an affiliate organization. In 2013, International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (ICSD) and WTF also came to an agreement, and the sport was included on the 2013 Deaflympics program. WTF also worked on developing better ties with the IBSA last year. In March of this year, WTF signed a memorandum of understanding with IWAS.
The first WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships took place in 2009 in Baku, Azerbaijan, and the world championships have been held yearly since then. Based on participation in the world championships, the sport is most popular in Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey. Some of the winners from the most recent world championships in 2013 include Viktoriia Marchuk, Spartak Gazzaev, Alejandro Vldal Alvarez, Vladislav Krichfalushiy, Yasar Sami Gokbaba, Busra Gor and Vusal Ismayilov. At this year’s championship in Moscow, there were 123 competitors participating from 40 different countries.
Para-taekwondo has seven classification groups. P10 is for competitors with visual impairments, P20 is for competitors with intellectual disabilities. P30 is for competitors with physical impairments. K40 is for competitors with limb deficiency and impaired muscle strength, P50 is for wheelchair class competitors. KP60 is for deaf competitors. P70 is for competitors with short stature. Inside each group, there are further classifications. For example, P31 is for competitors who appear to run normally but still have “spasticity (increased tone), ataxia, athetosis or dystonic movements” while P34 is for competitors with “very mild hemiplegia, diplegia, athetosis, dystonia, hemi-dystonia and very mild ataxia”. In competition, competitors are put into groups inside their classification based on weight.