ATR First - Chile Social Protests Won't Prevent Karate Tourney

(ATR) The president of the Chilean Olympic Committee tells ATR he has sent a "very reassuring message". 

SANTIAGO, CHILE - OCTOBER 21: Protesters light a fire in the center of Santiago on the fourth day of social riots for increases in public transport in Santiago of Chile on October 21, 2019.
 (Photo by Sebastian Brogca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
SANTIAGO, CHILE - OCTOBER 21: Protesters light a fire in the center of Santiago on the fourth day of social riots for increases in public transport in Santiago of Chile on October 21, 2019. (Photo by Sebastian Brogca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(ATR) The Chilean Olympic authorities are confident that the world karate youth championship, which opens Wednesday in Santiago, will be held without incident.

Speaking to Around the Rings, the president of the Chilean Olympic Committee, Miguel Angel Mujica, said he was sending a "very reassuring message" on the eve of the event with more than 1,700 participants from five continents, in the cadet, junior and under 21 categories.

A wave of anti-government protests began eight days ago in Chile. Originally sparked by an increase in the subway fare in Santiago, the unrest has grown as people protest income inequality in one of Latin America’s richest countries.

According to the government, 11 deaths had been recorded in clashes between government forces and protesters.

Several athletes have urged the government to listen to citizens but at the same time they have called to avoid violence, excesses and looting.

Curfews have been established in Santiago and in other provinces.

The protests have continued despite the government of President Sebastián Piñera deciding to retract the subway fare increase.

"I want to send a reassuring message," Mujica said on the eve of the world tournament. "You have to be patient in the sense that there have been problems, I can't hide them, but I am convinced that the government has clear control over the situation."

"We keep going, at least the sport is not going to be paralyzed," he said.

"The authorities have given total support for international sporting events to continue," said the Olympic leader.

The event that began the countdown to the Pan American Games Santiago 2023, last Sunday at the National Stadium, was suspended.

The president of the World Karate Federation, Spaniard Antonio Espinós, will arrive in the South American nation on Wednesday.

Karate’s international governing body said it decided to go ahead with the event after receiving confirmation from the Chilean authorities that conditions for the normal progress of the tournament were assured.

"The wellbeing of all the members of the Karate family taking part at the World Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships in Santiago is our main concern. Since the Chilean government has made clear that the event could be held as expected, we will continue with the anticipated celebration of underage sport that is our World Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships," Espinós said in a statement.

The 2019 World Cadet, Junior & U21 Championships are scheduled to run throughSunday in Santiago.

Written by Miguel Hernandez

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