By Tom Degun

WKFSeniors2012November 21 - The World Karate Championships begin today in Paris with the event serving as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation event for the sport's bid to appear at the 2020 Olympic Games.

The five-day competition in the French capital, which concludes on Sunday (November 25), is karate's showpiece event while it is staged every two years by the World Karate Federation (WKF).

Karate is one of seven sports bidding to make the 2020 Olympic programme alongside climbing, roller sport, squash, wakeboard, wushu and baseball and softball, who are making a joint bid.

WKF President Antonio Espinós believes karate can impress the IOC in Paris in a move that would help them gain entry to the Olympics in their third consecutive bid to become part of the Games.

"We have been learning from the Olympic Movement during former bids and this has allowed us to improve the WKF and karate," said Espinós.

"We have so much to bring to the Olympic Games.

"Karate is an absolutely universal sport; every human being around the globe recognises it and associates our sport to highly positive values.

"This is why the movies and communication industry often include karate in their contents and this is also what makes karate so attractive to sponsors."

Palais Omnisports de Paris-BercyThe 2012 World Karate Championships are taking place at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy

The 2012 World Karate Championships is taking place at the giant Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy which has hosted numerous international sporting events in disciplines including handball, basketball, boxing, gymnastics, tennis, track cycling and show jumping.

The 2012 competition in Paris is the 20th edition of the event since it began in Tokyo in 1970.

The Championships return to Paris and France for the first time since 1972 when the capital staged the second edition of the event.

A successful competition would give karate a major boost in their bid to join the Olympic programme.

After attending a major championships for each of the bidding sports by the end of the year, the IOC will compile a report on the merits of each discipline and its bid.

The IOC will then make a final decision on which sport, if any, to include at its Session in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

A maximum of 28 sports is allowed at the Olympic Games at any one time, and this will be reached at Rio 2016 with the inclusion of golf and rugby sevens.

However, it is highly likely that at least one of the seven bid sports will be included in the 2020 Olympic sports programme with the IOC set to remove at least one discipline currently on the sports programme.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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