By Tom Degun

Karate hijabJanuary 3 - The World Karate Federation (WKF) have given their bid to join the 2020 Olympic Games programme a boost after confirming that they have now approved the hijab for all  competitions.

The hijab is a veil that covers the head which is particularly worn by Muslim women.

The decision to allow the hijab in karate competition was made by the WKF Executive Committee after the governing body had been working on the issue for over two years.

The ruling came into effect from January 1, meaning the hijab can be worn in competitions at all levels from now on.

"The World Karate Federation has been always sensitive to the diversity of the whole karate family across the five continents," said a WKF statement.

"The decision adopted by the Executive Committee of the WKF to accept that the Muslim female athletes may wear the hijab in competition from January 1, 2013, has to be seen in the framework of a policy based not only in the deep roots of tradition but also in the continuous innovation.

"The World Karate Federation has been working for more than two years in this issue, gathering information and different sensitivities in order to take the best decision, acceptable and satisfactory for the whole of the karate family worldwide."

Antonio Espinós 2WKF President Antonio Espinós rubberstamped the move to get the hijab approved for all karate competitions

The WKF explained that they have approval of a unique model of the hijab that can be used for competition.

At present, it is the only hijab that have been given the green light by the WKF.

"The final agreement and decision are already a reality and also imply the approval of a unique model of hijab of black colour that covers the head and the back of the neck," said the statement.

"It does not affect the athletes' safety and that will include in the front the WKF logo.

"This will be the only model that will be accepted and the only one that it will be possible to compete in accordance with the WKF competition rules.

"This decision, taken after a thorough study, sets up a precedent in the world of sport.

"The World Karate Federation, through its President Antonio Espinós, has expressed in many occasions its will of universality and of integration of all those who make from karate, day to day, a way of life, far beyond religion, politics, social or economic factors.

"From this reality, and from the authority given by the 100 million karate athletes worldwide, the decision to approve the hijab is historical and confirms the universality and the integration power of the sport of karate and of the WKF."

The move by karate is certain to impress the IOC, who are currently considering the sport's bid for the 2020 Olympics.

Hijab footballA row over the use of the hijab in football was finally ended by a FIFA ruling last year

Last year FIFA approved a landmark ruling which gave the green light to Muslim women footballers to wear a revolutionary Velcro-designed hijab following several years of controversy.

The start of the judo competiton at London 2012 was overshadowed by a row over whether Saudi Arabia competitor Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani would be allowed to wear a hijab.

In the end, a compromise was reached which allowed her to wear something which covered her head.

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 with the IOC to decide on which sport to include on the 2020 Olympic programme at their Session in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

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