Taekwondo target Olympic growth for Tokyo 2020 Games

Jade Jones
Jade Jones won Britain's first-ever Olympic taekwondo gold medal at London 2012

World Taekwondo [WTF] hope a spread of international Rio Olympic medal success will boost the sport's expansion prospects for the 2020 Games.

All eight categories were won fighters from different nations at London 2012.

The sport hope two new divisions will be added if there is similar success this summer and will also lobby for the inclusion of team event tag-taekwondo.

"We would like to expand Olympic taekwondo," said WTF president Dr Chungwon Choue.

"At the moment there are four weight divisions for men and four for women at the Games and we would like that to be five and five for Tokyo."

TAEKWONDO AS A TEAM SPORT?

The International Olympic Association [IOC] are keen to ensure that sports included in the Olympic Games programme are not dominated by one or two nations.

Taekwondo had previously been under threat of being axed from the Games for 2020 due South Korea's domination of the major medals since the sport's introduction at Sydney 2000.

Lutalo Muhammad
GB's Lutalo Muhammad won bronze at the London 2012 Olympics

However, the spread of international success in London helped ensure taekwondo received a reprieve and the sport hopes to be able to continue demonstrating its growing international appeal.

"It's a universal sport with many countries in the Middle East, Europe and South America getting stronger," said president Choue, who hopes a team event would bring a new dynamic to the Olympic competition.

"We'd really like to introduce the 'five v five' or 'three v three' team championships into the Olympic Games.

"It's exciting and dynamic, but it's a matter of the number of participating athletes, so we'll have to discuss with the IOC after the Rio Olympics."

BOOST FOR BRITISH TAEKWONDO:

Manchester hosted the first-ever World Taekwondo Grand Prix in late 2013 and has staged an event in each of the subsequent two years.

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The competition now runs as a worldwide annual series and helped determine which nations would be awarded the first places at the Rio 2016 Olympics - through world rankings - last year.

There will be a Grand Final in late 2016, with the full series to resume in 2017 and form a similar part of qualification for the Toyko 2020 Games.

"The system has been very successful," said Dr Choue.

"There will be four host cities [in 2017], but it [Manchester] is the home of the Grand Prix and it will be back."

TAEKWONDO CAN HELP REFUGEES:

The Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation was launched in 2015 due to by Dr Choue's belief that the sport can be used to help those in crisis situations across the globe.

The first pilot, which involved sending equipment, coaches and medical services to Jordanian sites in Zaatari and Azraq, took place last December with subsquent work also carried out at the Syrian refugee camps in Kilis, Turkey.

Dr Chungwon Choue
President Dr Chungwon Choue (left) hopes taekwondo can help improve the lives of people in crisis.

Most recently there was taekwondo involvement in at the earthquake relief project in Nepal, with further ambitions to help those in Ghana, Ethiopia, Colombia and Greece.

"All of the IOC sports should have contribution to the human society," Dr Choue told BBC Sport.

"The Foundation will really help the young kids in refugee camps as it will give them how to respect their elders and be loyal as well as learn about Olympianism and peace."

The IOC announced earlier this month that a team of refugee athletes would be allowed to compete under the Olympic flag across several sports at the Rio 2016 Games.

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