Flush from the success of their Olympic debut in Tokyo this past summer, the sport of karate is looking to solidify their future in the Olympic program, even as the sport is currently not a part of the Paris 2024 lineup.
“The Olympic Games helped us demonstrate karate is a modern, appealing and spectacular discipline. We will continue to do our utmost to ensure we extend the influence of our sport and increase our fan base,” said World Karate Federation (WKF) President Antonio Espinos.
The WKF recently completed their 25th edition of the Karate World Senior Championship in Dubai, UAE.
Olympic gold medal winner Ryo Kiyuna of Japan claimed his fourth consecutive world title in men’s kata, while Spaniard Sandra Sanchez added a world title in women’s kata to her European and Olympic gold medals.
Nearly a thousand athletes from 105 countries took part in the Karate World Championship in Dubai. Japan fared the best with seven medals, including four golds. In all, 26 countries went home with at least one medal.
The WKF believes those numbers are a testament for the global influence karate has.
“This shows how important it is for a sport like karate to be a part of the Olympic program. Olympic participation is a crucial factor and makes the difference between stagnation and development. There are no valid reasons to exclude karate from Paris 2024,” said Espinos.
Despite all the best efforts and pleas from the WKF, the Paris 2024 organizing committee has decided to drop karate from its program, citing limitations on the number of sports it can accommodate.
France’s Steven Da Costa won karate’s first Olympic gold medal on August 5 and was France’s flagbearer for the closing ceremonies. He has expressed his disappointment with the decision.
“I trained relentlessly and brought the gold medal back to France,” he tweeted. “I carried the French flag with pride. I was on cloud nine.”
“In 2024, with your support, I want the chance to defend my Olympic title in Paris.”
The Paris 2024 committee said they understand the feelings of Da Costa and the WKF but can’t modify the program of events.