World Taekwondo has touched down in Baku, Azerbaijan for a series of events highlighting the unity and increasing appeal of taekwondo as a global sport.
Today the international taekwondo federation held its 36th General Assembly exactly 50 years after its inaugural meeting where representatives of 17 nations founded the organization. Delegates present welcomed Namibia as World Taekwondo's 213th National Member Association, demonstrating the impressive global growth and togetherness of taekwondo.
The sport has been granted Olympic status in 2000, which has been underlined during yesterday's Golden Jubilee Gala Dinner to commemorate notable athletes of the past few decades who have participated in the Olympic games. Beyond taekwondo, not many other martial arts have achieved so much in gaining international recognition and inclusion in the world's biggest sport competition. Judo and boxing come to mind, with karate trailing rather far behind as it's only been part of the Olympic roster since Tokyo 2020. Boxing has been part of the Olympic games for over a century, though its Olympic status is now in doubt because of concerns with the International Boxing Association (IBA) surrounding fair judging and dubious ties with Russia.
Also today, the World Taekwondo Council elected Wuxi, China, as the host city for the 2025 World Taekwondo Championships. Wuxi was elected with 14 votes out of 26 eligible votes, overcoming rival bids from Sofia, Bulgaria; Zagreb, Croatia; and Charlotte, USA. China has hosted the World Championships before in 2007 (Beijing), and Hong Kong hosted the event in 1997. The Council selected Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, to host the 2025 World Taekwondo Cadet Championships as the sole candidate for the event.
Tomorrow, the 2023 World Taekwondo Championships will commence in the Baku Crystal Hall, which will see nearly 1000 athletes from 144 countries around the world participating. A special Refugee Team will join as well. The athletes will compete across 8 weight categories for men and 8 for women, for the world titles in these categories but also to score qualification points for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.