By Tom Degun at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy

DSCF3284November 25 - World Karate Federation (WKF) President Antonio Espinós has described the 2012 World Championships here, which are being observed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as the best ever.

The Championships take place every two years but this year, the sport's showpiece competition has taken on added importance due to the fact that it is serving as the IOC Evaluation event for the sport's bid to appear at the 2020 Olympic Games.

And with the Championships receiving widespread plaudits, Espinós is confident the IOC inspection team cannot have failed to been impressed after witnessing the competition here, which has drawn to a conclusion following five scintillating days of action.

"In my mind, there is no doubt that this was the greatest World Championships in history," Espinós said at a press conference here.

"I have attended many World Championships, even before I was elected in 1998, and there have been some very good editions of the event.

"But this is a different level.

"We have had sold out crowds with 16,000 in the arena.

"We have had over 300 journalists and we have had lots of success for the home country France.

"So this is without a doubt the best World Championships ever for me."

karate 1The 2012 World Karate Championships have been described as the best ever by WKF President Antonio Espinós

The 65-year-old from Bilbao in Spain continued that he was delighted the event had been chosen as karate's Evaluation event given how successful it has been.

IOC Olympic Programme Commission member Mike Fennell and project officer at the IOC director general's office Pierre Fratter-Bardy were the inspection team in attendance to access karate's Olympic credentials.

"There is no way that the IOC cannot be impressed by this," Espinós said.

"The athletes, the crowd and the facility have been truly outstanding and this is obviously very good for our Olympic bid.

"This is definitely the right Championships for the IOC to visit to get a true flavour of our sport."

The event itself saw France dominate, as they claimed five of the 12 available individual gold medals to delight the home crowd.

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

The IOC will review all the bids next month following the conclusion of all the Evaluation events before making a final decision on which sport to include at the 2020 Olympics at their Session in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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