December 18 - Following on from the sport's success at the London 2012 Games, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) have today confirmed plans to launch a Grand Prix Series in 2014 keeping on track with their mission to improve and evolve the martial art worldwide.
The WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series will initially feature four stages in four continents, with 256 of the world's top players set to participate, and the top eight men and women going on to compete in an annual Grand Prix Final.
Test events will be taking place next year and are part of WTF's quest to give athletes better exposure and raise the standard of competition in between Olympic Games and World Championships.
"The Olympic Games in London triggered a surge in international interest in taekwondo - there is now a real appetite for more regular top-class taekwondo on the global stage," said WTF President Chungwon Choue.
"The WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series is an excellent opportunity for athletes to take part in an international competition of this magnitude in between Olympic Games and World Championships.
"It will allow the sport greater media exposure and the athletes more of a public voice.
"I believe that this competition will inspire youth all over the world to take part in a competitive sport where skill and discipline are paramount and which heralds global friendship."
The concept of such an event was submitted to the WTF Council for ratification during their meeting in Santa Cruz, Aruba last month - an assembly which also witnessed the appointment of International Olympic Committee member Aïcha Garad Ali as the newest governing body member - and coincided with the WTF World Cup Team Championships and the third World Para-Taekwondo Championships.
The announcement is another milestone for taekwondo, just days after the WTF 2012 Medical Report claimed the sport to be among the safest of the Olympic programme.
"The aim of the Grand Prix Series is to give athletes better exposure and to continue to raise the standard of competitions worldwide," said WTF secretary general Jean-Marie Ayer.
"We see it as a virtuous circle: higher quality, higher profile competitions will help us deliver better return on investment for existing sponsors and attract new ones; more sponsorship revenue will help us to continue raising the quality and profile of our competitions, and so on.
"This is a very exciting moment for the global taekwondo family."
The Grand Prix, which will be funded through a combination of sponsorship and the sale of media to key markets, especially Latin America, Asia and increasingly Europe, is another positive move from the WTF as they continue to reach and appeal to fans worldwide.
The different host cities for the event are yet to be announced.
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