Karate Changing Format for Olympics
2nd october 2015
(ATR) World Karate Federation President Antonio Espinos tells Around the Rings the federation is optimistic about its inclusion in Tokyo 2020’s additional events proposal.
“We are extremely satisfied. We have been working for so long to achieve this goal and we think it was well deserved for the World Karate Federation and karate. We are grateful and happy that Tokyo chose karate,” said Espinos.
Espinos says the current championship format features athletes on both the men and women’s sides competing in five weight classes. In order to fit into the Olympic program for 2020, the federation can only have three weight classes on each side.
“We have five weight categories, and we have been given three and three by Tokyo. We have to see. This is not going to be an easy period or an easy decision but we will work out something that will be the best universal proposal in terms of participation,” he tells ATR.
The federation is limited as a result of the athlete quotas established by the IOC for adding events to the program. The maximum number of additional athletes brought on by any program changes is 500.
Karate demonstration for Tokyo 2020 Additional Events Program Panel (Tokyo 2020)
Tokyo 2020’s proposal to include five additional sports and eighteen disciplines will bring 474 more athletes to the Games if all sports are approved by the IOC next August. Espinos tells ATR it will be a long 10 months before the IOC Session in Rio when the IOC votes on Tokyo’s proposal.
“We have to fully understand what the situation is now and what the process is that will start now. It’s going to be a long one until the month of August and the IOC Session. I expect we will be given some information or indication by the IOC in the coming weeks. We want to have all of the information in our hands and then see how we can plan,” says Espinos.
The wait until the next IOC Session will be minimal compared to the amount of time WKF has been dreaming of Olympic inclusion. Espinos tells ATR the federation has been trying for 10 years to join the Games.
“We want to express our thanks to the IOC and to the president because WKF and karate have been participating in the Olympic process to get in the program since 2005 and it was very difficult because the charter did not allow more than 28 sports,” he says.
Before the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms initiated by IOC president Thomas Bach in 2014, in order for a sport to join the program another one had to be taken off. The reforms now allow each host country to propose the addition of several new sports that benefit the Olympics and drive youth participation and engagement.
Espinos says the federation is grateful for being months away from achieving their long sought after goal.
“We could not see the light at the end of the tunnel but the IOC president Thomas Bach together with the IOC and the Olympic Agenda showed it was not so difficult to create the conditions necessary to open the Olympic program,” he tells ATR.
Written by Kevin Nutley