PYONGYANG, Taekwondo officials from the two Koreas on Wednesday discussed ways to help North Korean taekwondo practitioners to participate at the Olympic Games.
The officials of World Taekwondo (WT) and the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) had a meeting in Pyongyang ahead of a WT taekwondo demonstration team's performance. The 49-member WT delegation arrived in the North Korean capital on Tuesday.
WT, led by South Korean Choue Chung-won, is headquartered in Seoul and is the official international taekwondo governing body, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The ITF is led by North Korean Ri Yong-son, and its taekwondo has different rules from WT.
"The ITF proposed creating a coordination committee to further discuss developmental measures including the participation of North Korean taekwondo athletes at the Olympics," Choue said after attending the meeting with Ri. "We then asked North Korea to establish a WT member association in Pyongyang, so that North Koreans can take part in international competitions including the Olympics."
No North Korean taekwondo practitioners have participated in the Olympics.
In August 2014, WT and the ITF signed a landmark agreement titled "Protocol of Accord" in the presence of the IOC. The agreement outlines areas of mutual cooperation and exchange, including helping ITF taekwondo athletes to compete at the Olympics.
Currently, ITF taekwondo practitioners, including North Koreans, can compete at the Olympics if they qualify under WT rules. But North Korean taekwondo practitioners have yet to make a Summer Games appearance.
Meanwhile, Choue said he asked ITF to join hands in listing taekwondo as UNESCO cultural heritage. At the meeting, the two sides also reportedly agreed to have a joint taekwondo demonstration performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Choue said the two sides will have another meeting on Friday and will try to reach conclusions on various issues.
"The ITF also asked us to accept its taekwondo athletes' dan grades," he said. "I think we'll have to discuss that issue in our executive committee meeting next month."
Source: Yonhap News Agency