(ATR) A lengthy International Taekwondo Federation exchange program could bring the first productive dialogue with World Taekwondo since 2014.
For the second time an ITF demonstration team will have a presence at the 2017 Taekwondo World Championships in Muju, South Korea. World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue confirmed to Around the Rings the delegation is expected to stay for the championship’s duration, after only a brief appearance at the 2015 edition in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Added significance has been placed on the delegation’s presence given the North Korea-led ITF and North Korean athletes. The athletes arrived in Seoul yesterday before travelling to Muju today, where they will stay until June 30. For reference, the 2015 exchange lasted for only one day Choue said.
Choue told ATR that there will be absolutely no talks of a future merge between the organizations. Originally, a joint press conference between Choue and ITF President Ung Chang was scheduled, but unexpectedly cancelled by the ITF.
South Korean President Jae In Moon is expected to participate in the championship’s opening ceremony, highlighting the sensitivity of the delegation’s visit.
Ha Jin Song, governor of North Jeolla Province, told journalists he believed the government delegation made the championships a "high profile event for Korea and beyond". Song confirmed that President of the National Assembly Sye Kyun Chun will also be in attendance, underscoring the national importance. Moon, a left-leaning politician, is known for wanting to take a softer stance with North Korea and will receive his first opportunity to engage Northern counterparts through sports diplomacyin Muju.
"This is very historic after since we invited the ITF demonstration two years ago and had a very successful launch of the program," Choue said to ATR. "[The ITF] are going to have their taekwondo championships in Pyongyang this September and we will discuss in more details [how] they are going to invite our demonstration teams to come to Pyongyang."
Choue hopes to build on and strengthen a 2014 set of accords signed by the two rival federations, acknowledging the "mutual respect" of each organization. The Nanjing accords also set guidelines that would allow ITF athletes to participate in World Taekwondo events, so long as it was under World Taekwondo rules. The accords allowed for reciprocity, meaning the participation of World Taekwondo athletes at ITF events would be expected.
"In 2015 we didn’t’ have any time to have a conversation," Choue added to the assembled journalists. "This time we have the ITF President, vice president, and spokesperson here in Korea, so I expect conversations between ITF and [World Taekwondo]."
Written by Aaron Bauer in Muju
Travel paid for by World Taekwondo
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