March 11 - The World Karate Federation has announced that, for the first time,r people with disabilities will get the opportunity to compete at this year's main Championships in Germany.
The inaugural World Karate Championships for People with Disabilities will see wheelchair, blind and visually impaired, and mentally handicapped athletes share the stage with their able-bodied counterparts in Bremen at event scheduled to take place November 5 until 9.
The announcement comes following a five-year programme of initiatives launched by the WKF, starting with the founding of the Commission for Persons with Disabilities by the governing body in 2009.
Along with working out rules and guidelines in line with those of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organisation's (WHO) international classification of diseases, a number of national and regional Championships were launched.
These started with the first regional Open Karate Championships for people with disabilities held in Bavaria after the main German Championships and which were run by the German Karate Association (DKV) and the German Sports Association for People with Disabilities (DBS).
These were soon followed by similar championships in countries including Serbia, Great Britain, Spain, Morocco and Japan.
At the 2012 World Karate Championships in Paris, a demonstration competition featuring disabled athletes was staged and after being widely regarded as a success the decision was made to run a disabled World Championships alongside the main event next time out.
The move is also likely to hasten a future bid by the WKF for karate to be considered for inclusion on the Paralympic Games programme, although the fact karate is not on the Olympic programme could indicate that that occurrence may be some way off.
Karate's bid for Olympic status appeared to be given a shot in the arm early last year when all national teams of the three bid cities for the 2020 Olympics - Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo - pledged their support for its inclusion.
But the sport was excluded from the final shortlist of three that went forward to the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September, where wrestling retained its place on the Olympic programme, while the 2020 Games were awarded to Tokyo.
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