August 16 - Karate is ready to be admitted onto the Olympic programme for the first time – that's the view of Antonio Espinós, President of the World Karate Federation.
The martial art is currently locked in a battle with seven other sports – baseball and softball, which are set to merge bids to strengthen their own hopes, squash, wushu, wakeboarding, roller skating and climbing – for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Karate is perhaps in a stronger position than its rivals as like baseball, softball and squash this is its third bid for inclusion on the Olympic programme.
But along with squash, it just missed out on gaining a two thirds majority of International Olympic Committee (IOC) members for inclusion in the 2012 Games that have just concluded in London.
If they are successful at the third time of asking and Tokyo wins the right to host the 2020 Games, then karate will be a part of the Olympics for the first time in the country where the sport originated.
Espinós is confident it will achieve that goal.
"We are confident, we are proud of what we represent and are confident we will get it this time," he told insidethegames.
"We feel we can show and present a sport which educates people, and makes them more peaceful and human.
"At the same time it improves you physically so it is very complete, and the Olympics needs a sport like this one.
Espinós adds that his organisation has learned from its previous bids.
"We have improved the things we felt we had to improve and kept those we thought we had to keep," he said.
"We present ourselves as an improved candidate."
However, Espinós is keen to stress that the sport is not looking to replace anyone, with taekwondo and judo both potentially in line for the chop from the Olympic programme, but instead says that is the "most practised martial art in the world".
"We now have very positive feelings," he adds.
"We are familiar with all the procedures and we think in general the opinion of the IOC community is that karate has improved.
"If we achieve it or not depends on many factors.
"I can tell you – we are ready."
Read the full insidethegames interview with Espinós here.
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June 2012: Exclusive - Karate favourite for inclusion in 2020 Olympics