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SPORTS DIPLOMACY | TAEKWONDO
Date 14.12.08 Hit 888
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[TAEKWONDO] Keynote Speech at International Taekwondo Symposium(2014.12.05)

Keynote Speech at International Taekwondo Symposium
on 5 December, 2014 at TaekwondoWon
 
Taekwondo and Olympics

By Dr. UnYong KIM
Founding President of World Taekwondo Federation and Kukikiwon

 

First of all, I like to extend my heartiest welcome to participants to International Taekwondo Symposium in my capacity as Founding President of the Kukkiwon and the World Taekwondo Federation and as Retired Vice President of International Olympic Committee who brought Taekwondo in Olympic Program.

In ancient days, sports were privileges of those who had time and money. With economic development, people started to practice, talk and watch. Sports has become a part of life and positive social movement. Sports cannot solve all problems but influence much.

Politics began to see the growing messages of sports and started to get involved. Boycott, political propaganda as in case of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and US call for boycott are good examples.

 

Then, came involvement of economics which had thought sports were nothing but consumers with no added value. They started to see marketing opportunities : TV right, sponsors, suppliers, licencees. Such benefit has brought commercialism, gigantism, drugs, cheating, sports betting, and match fixing.

Environmental issue became also very important. At the end of 20th century, Olympic movement has succeeded in globalization of sports but Olympic ideals dedicated to education of youth and peace in the world might have been damaged if not destroyed as we enter the 21st century. And it is now the job of the sports leaders how to uplift Olympic ideals.

 

Taekwondo has been rapidly developed as universal martial art sport and has become an important pillar of Olympic Games. In the past, the West exported sports to the East but now the East exports the sports to the West. The first success is Judo and the 2nd is Taekwondo. It is said that Taekwondo has achieved in 20 years what others took 100 years. It is also a success of Korean culture to be transformed to World culture.


Ⅰ. Modernization of Taekwondo as Universal Martial Art Sport.

 

Taekwondo is a universal sport with spirit and tradition of martial art maintained. Taekwondo modernization started with inauguration of Kukkiwon, the world Taekwondo Headquarters on 8 Dec 1972. It was constructed in one year with own private means without any government subsidy.

It was the dream of all Taekwondo family in the world. With the opening of Kukkiwon, modernization to become national sports and world sports started. Organized system and analytical approach were applied. Taekwondo being martial art sport, strict Dan promotion system and education of instructors for higher quality were given top priority. Thirty(30) divided Kwans were all unified under Kukkiwon. All Kwans gave up Dan certification. Instructors Training Academy was open. Kukkiwon became birthplace of World Taekwondo Federation, World Taekwondo Championships, Asian Taekwondo Union, Asian Taekwondo Championship, International Referee Seminar, Hanmadang, and official practice hall for 1988 Seoul Olympics.

 

Taekwondo competition rules, protective head gear and bodyguard, Poomsee, Dobok were all newly structured and offered to the world for acceptance. Childeren's Dan Belt was changed to Poom with red/black belt.

 

World Taekwondo Federation was inaugurated for globalization in its road to Olympic glory. Korean Taekwondo Association(KTA) as birthplace and root of Taekwondo was responsible for propagation. Kukkiwon as World Headquarter maintains Martial Art tradition, and supports WTF and KTA financially and technically. Three organizations functioned in tripartite in its road to Olympic glory. Research for electronic protector was started and "Hanmadang" was inaugurated to maintain martial art tradition. 
 
Sports normally propagate at bottom and go up to the top like pyramid. To the contrary, Taekwondo, running short of time, obtained umbrella first and under its umbrella, propagation was rapidly implemented.

 

When Taekwondo was not much exposed to the sport world and sometimes mixed up with other martial art like Karate, Kukkiwon was the site of demonstration of Taekwondo to visiting world sports leaders before and during 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. IOC President Samaranch, IOC members, Sports ministers including Soviet Union and East Germany, IF Presidents, NOC Presidents were among them.

From Many 25 to 27 May 1973, the First World Taekwondo Championships were organized at Kukkiwon with participation of 20 countries and 200 athletes. The World Taekwondo Federation was inaugurated on 28 May 1973.

 

Dr. UnYong Kim, the President of KTA/ Founding President of Kukkiwon was elected as the Founding President of WTF. Mr. Chong-Wou Lee was elected as Secretary General.

October 1974, 1st Asian Taekwondo Championships was organized at Kukkiwon and Asian Taekwondo Union was inaugurated in an effort to globalize Taekwondo.

8 Oct 1975, WTF was affiliated to GAISF(General Association of International Sports Federations) at Montreal General Assembly. It was first step to wear umbrella and officially recognized international sports body. It was against fierce opposition of Judo and Karate, and even swimming in behalf of Karate. If Taekwondo had failed, Olympic entry would have been dragged on till now.

 

9 April 1976, Conseil International du Sport Militaire(CISM) admitted Taekwondo. It has become official Military Game sport.

May 1976, European Taekwondo Union was inaugurated in Barcelona with 1st European Taekwondo Championship. Saila Marco of Spain was elected President, and Heinz Marx of Germany, 1st Vice President.

September 1978, 1st Pan American TKD Championship was organized in Mexico City. Mario Vasquez Rana attended. Tournament Director was Moon Daewon.

April 1979, 1st African Taekwondo Championship was organized with inauguration of African Taekwondo Union. Ouasanan Kone was elected President. KIM YoungTae was Technical chairman.

 

17 July 1980, 83rd IOC Session in Moscow granted recognition to WTF. International Taekwondo Federation(ITF) immediately protested and IOC started investigation of both WTF and ITF to examine which IF had more recognition of NOCs. As WTF President was the organizer of Seoul Olympics, issue was solved easily.

29-31 July 1981, 1st World Games was organized in Santa Clara, USA with Taekwondo participating, and WTF President Officiating the games as its president. It is the first step forward to Olympic entry.

 

8 April 1982, IOC President Samaranch visited Kukkiwon and presented with Taekwondo demonstrations and briefing on Taekwondo globalization as sports. It was the first step to the Olympic entry.

12-13 Aug 1983, Taekwondo was accepted as Pan American sports with vote of 22 in favor, 2 opposed and 2  abstention at Pan American Union in Caracas, Venezuela. Thus, it became official Pan American Sport. Pan American Games President Mario Vasquz Rana tried to postpone the decision to 2 years later but was over ruled by motion to vote.

 

28 Nov-1 Dec 1983, Taewkondo was accepted as official sport in African Games.

Sep 28 1984, TKD became 1986 Seoul Asian Game Sport. In Los Angeles Olympics, boxing which had a serious problems from injury, started to wear head gear. As safety of sport is essential to enter Olympic Games, WTF President KIM took an initiative to adopt head gear upon return from Los Angeles. It removed one important obstacle.

2-6 June 1985, IOC session in Berlin approved Taekwondo  and baseball as demonstration sports in 1988 Seoul Olympics. Initially, badminton was to be a demonstration, and Taekwondo was considered for exhibition.

8-10 May 1986, FISU recognized Taekwondo as Universiade Sport in Zagreb FISU General meeting. It has become official university sport. It was featured at 2001 Taegu Universiade. It will be featured in 2015 Gwangju Universiade.

12 May 1986, International Fairplay Committee accepted WTF. WTF continued its effort to wear more umbrella.

Sep 1986, Taekwondo was organized at Seoul Asian Games. It was the first appearance in Continental Games, another step toward Olympic glory.

Oct 17, 1986, WTF President/ 1st Vice President of 1988 Seoul Olympic Games was elected to IOC member at 86th IOC session in Lausanne, and soon elected as President of GAISF in Monte Carlo. It laid a strong base to the Olympic entry. 

1-4 1987, Taekwondo was featured in 4th African Games in Nairobi.

14-16 Aug 1987, Taekwondo was featured in 10th Pan Am Games in Indianapolis. It was the beginning of Taekwondo propagating fast in Latin America. Many Taekwondo clubs were recognized as national body by NOCs with budgetary subsidies.

16-19 Sep 1987, Taekwondo was featured in 14th Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta.

1 Oct 1987, Taekwondo demonstration was presented to IOC in Lausane. With Judo Uniform, changing its color under IOC guidance, IOC President suggested the change of color of Taekwondo Dobok from white to Red and blue. WTF President counter proposed that Hogoo and head gear already is red and blue, and not necessary to change color, and white dobok stayed as it is. White color of Dobok shows spirit and tradition of Taekwondo as martial art.

 

Ⅱ. Taekwondo in Olympics

 

Sept. 1988, Taekwondo was featured officially as demonstration sport in Seoul Olympics. IOC President Samaranch and IOC, IF, NOC, TV and Press attended. It is the first step to join Olympic competition. Taekwondo  status in world of sports was drastically upgraded.

On 17th September at the Opening Ceremony of Seoul Olympics, Taekwondo demonstration was presented by 1000 paratroopers. TVs exposed Taekwondo to the World for the first time.

 

22 April 1992, OCA EB adopted Taekwondo as official sport in Hiroshima Asian Games, reversing its early decision. Initially, only Karate was in the program.

23 July 1992, at IOC Session in Barcelona, WTF President / IOC member UnYong KIM was elected as IOC Vice President. Taekwondo was adopted as demonstration sport in Barcelona Olympics. Jailai and Roller skate were already selected as 2 demonstration sports according to IOC Charter but IOC President and WTF President worked out a special exception with approval of IOC Executive Board.

 

24 Feb 1993, WTF President was elected to President of Korea Olympic Committee and Korea Sports Council. Status of Taekwondo was further enhanced.

Aug 1993, 11th World TKD and 4th Women TKD Championships were held at Madison Square Garden in New York. IOC Sports Director Gilbert Felli and several IOC members, USOC and Atlanta Games Organizers attended. It served as prelude to enter Olympic Games. ABC telecast for the first time. Park Yeonhee and Park YeonHwan were Tournament Directors.

 

May 1994, IOC Program Commission rejected application of Taekwondo  with vote of 9 against and 2 in favor.

4 September 1994, 103rd IOC Session in Paris, Taekwondo was accepted as official sport in 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with a vote of 85-0 to the surprise of the whole world. As Taekwondo was rejected by Program Commission in May, IOC President was not in favor with Taekwondo's admission initially. President proposed 1 man and 1 woman weight category like Triathlon. Then, upon persuasion, 2 for men and 2 categories for women were proposed through overnight lobby by WTF President. With all Executive Board members persuaded, WTF President/IOC Vice President proposed 3 categories for men and 3 categories for women. As his proposal was approved by Executive Board, he further proposed 4 men and 4 women weight categories to the IOC session with condition of maximum 4 categories to  participate by one country to avoid monopoly of gold medals by one country. After fierce question and answer session by socialist blocs, including questions on ITF, Taekwondo was adopted by 85-0 vote by the IOC Session to the surprise of the world. Karate and ITF had a fierce opposing campaign throughout the years and during the session proceedings. Each IOC members' rooms was filled with document of ITF, objecting Taekwondo's entry into Olympics.

 

Many ITF officials and Karate leaderships threatened and campaigned against. It was a moment of attaining the highest glory for all Taekwondo family in the world. Korean culture became a part of universal sports. Taekwondo propagation started from top to the bottom instead of normal way of bottom to top. Many more practitioners joined Taekwondo Clubs. Many Karate Dojang (including those of Korean masters) changed their name from Karate to Taekwondo after Taekwondo became Olympic sport. Olympic entry gave Taekwondo family, identity, pride, images, status, support and respect.

 

17 Nov 1996, IOC Executive Board increased Taekwondo quota in Sydney Games from 64 to 100. Furthermore,  IOC EB at Mexico City approved Taekwondo as official sport in 2004 Athens Olympics.

17-18 May 1997, and Busan East Asian Games in Busan featured Taekwondo competition.

WTF started to receive IOC subsidy of starting from 6 million dollars in 2000 to today's 16 million dollars every 4 year Olympic cycle. National Taekwondo Associations throughout the world received recognition of National Olympic Committees. National Olympic Committees allocated annual budget and training cost to prepare for Olympics to Taekwondo national associations. Taekwondo associations could send delegates to NOC and elected as NOC Executive Committee members. They started to be involved in NOC affairs. WTF should provide more support to national programs for propagation of Taekwondo.

 

Sep 27 to 30, 2000, Taekwondo was featured for the first time in Sydney Olympics with 102 Athletes in 8 weight categories and 36 international referees. Taekwondo has become a full Olympic family members. Taekwondo officials and athletes marched at the opening ceremony parade.

 

Ⅲ. Future of Taekwondo in Olympics

 

IOC originally indicated that it would start with 8 gold medals of 4 women and 4 men categories but would gradually increase medals but it is not yet in sight. It requires continued effort by WTF. IOC has limited gold medals of Olympic Games to total of 300 and 10,500 Athletes. Competition by each sport for Olympic place is vicious.

Taekwondo arrived in Beijing Olympics and London Olympics with innovation of Competition rule and electronic protector. It survived by bare margin at Singapore IOC session with support of sympathetic IOC members, but enough alarm was raised with advance of Karate.

 

In most recent challenge, Taekwondo survived for 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics at IOC EB meeting in Lausanne in May 2013 against expectations.

It is selected as one of 25 Core Olympic sports against anxiety of many concerned. It owes a lot to support of 4 vice presidents and half of EB members while wrestling suffered with no such supporting force. And yet, in 2017, there will be another evaluation as IOC must innovate the sports program to meet 21st century challenges.

In order to keep Olympic glory for Taekwondo family, it must continue to innovate. It is a universal sport but is still a martial art sport with tradition and spirit to be maintained. Roots of Taekwondo must be preserved. Eliminating Korean Language from official language is a wrong move. Other sports also preserve official languages.  Taekwondo is to compete with all Olympic sports. Competition is not only limited to other martial art like Karate and Wushu. How many sports are waiting in line to become Olympic sports: Karate, Wrestling, Baseball-softball, Squash, Wushu, Bowling, Cricket, and so on.

It must propagate Taekwondo more throughout the world with more attractive competition rules and teaching methods. It must be applealing to audience and television. It must be appealing to marketing requirement.

 

On 4 September, TaekwondoWon was inaugurated in Muju with government investment of 250 billion Won on area of 2,314,000㎡. September 4 is the day Taekwondo was adopted as official Olympics Sport at 1994 Paris IOC Congress at initiative of WTF Founding President. Taekwondo competition Hall, Museum, Hotel, classrooms are to play as Mecca of Taekwondo. It is an unprecedented policy support by the government for a single sport.

Taekwondo Promotion Foundation must be able to manage the Won as a real Mecca to present competition, education, research, Symposium and Conference in pragmatic way as it cannot expect government subsidy forever.

 

Martial Art Taekwondo and Olympic Taekwondo could contribute to the education of the youth as in Olympic Charter and Elite sport. Sports education of the youth will not only contribute to strengthening of body and mind but also prevent obesity, drug addiction, game intoxication, violence. It fosters team work, fairplay, respect of rules, leadership, best effort, and friendship.

 

Taekwondo could contribute to healthy life of individuals and region with the arrival of aging society. In the ages where the healthy and ill persons live together with development of medical technique, equipment and medicine and recreation, preventive sports exercise is important. Taekwondo could play a significant role for society.

WTF must internationalize and nationalize administration and finance, as was directed by IOC Executive Board. It should become the first class member of Olympic family. It can participate and get involved in the affairs of IOC, NOC, and ANOC.

 

WTF must invest and complete development of electronic protector. We all know it is not enough yet. Taekwondo must establish a strict Dan Promotion system and education of Taekwondo instructors, eventually  leading to establishment of Taekwondo College by TaekwondoWon. Taekwondo museum should serve as center of education. WTF must resolve issues of 'one sport with two International federations'; namely ITF.

WTF was not able to increase Olympic quota since successful debut at Sydney Olympics in 2000. It was a WTF commitment.

WTF must do best effort to increase Olympic weight categories and quota which is overdue since first successful appearance at 2000 Sydney Olympics. Competition with other Olympic sports will not be easy. Continued innovation is key to the Olympic survival.

 

Taekwondo has survived for Rio de Janeiro Olympics but will face another IOC Evaluation in 2017. It must maintain heritage and Olympic glory for all Taekwondo family in the world. It is the responsibility of all Taekwondo family. To do so, unity of Taekwondo family is of paramount importance. I entrust you with the job.

 

I wish you a Good luck and success!

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