World Taekwondo Federation President Chungwon Choue addresses United Nations officials and 700 young students at UN headquarters in New York ©WTF

World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) President Chungwon Choue has formally announced the formation of the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) at United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York.

Choue was speaking on the UN's International Day of Peace, an event first proposed in 1981 by his late father Young Seek Choue, who at the time headed the International Association of University Presidents General Assembly.

In his address, he outlined the WTF’s plans to assist the global community with the growing refugee crisis; a matter he had raised in a meeting with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon yesterday.

The THF will discharge teams of instructors to teach taekwondo to young people in refugee camps around the world, keeping them active, while aiming to instil in them taekwondo's philosophy and values of Olympism.

Plans for the foundation are still being finalised with the WTF looking to officially establish it before the end of the year in the Olympic capital of Lausanne. 

A pilot programme is currently being planned to operate in Jordanian refugee camps, which Choue intends to visit himself. 

After his speech, Choue introduced the WTF's taekwondo demonstration team, which showcased the sport for the first time ever at the prestigious location. 

Having performed for the assembled UN officials and some 700 young students, the team also taught taekwondo skills to the participants.

"It was a tremendous honour for me to speak to the UN and present the WTF demonstration team, particularly on the International Day of Peace, which was proposed by my father in 1981," said Choue after his address.

"My father often said 'peace is more precious than triumph' and it is for this reason that I know he would support our plans for the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation."

The WTF taekwondo demonstration team performed at UN headquarters in New York
The WTF taekwondo demonstration team performed at UN headquarters in New York ©WTF

Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that an emergency fund of $2 million (£1.3 million/€1.8 million) will be made available to National Olympic Committees to fund programmes aimed at helping refugees. 

Thomas Bach, IOC President, said the decision to set up the fund was taken quickly in response to the growing crisis which has seen refugees attempt to reach Europe in search of safety. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) puts the number of refugees worldwide at almost 20 million, and the number of forcibly displaced people at nearly 60 million. 

"The refugee crisis is one of the biggest issues Europe and the world faces right now and it is an issue we must face together," added Choue. 

"As IOC President Thomas Bach said, sport and the Olympic Movement should play a part in bringing humanitarian help to refugees.

"We believe that the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation will do just that and it is a concept we have been planning for some time.

"As a sport which requires minimal equipment, taekwondo is ideally positioned to help as it is easily deployable and easily accessible to all.

"Taekwondo will bring hope and joy to young people in refugee camps, keep them active and promote our global values."

Following the ceremony, Choue was invited to visit the UN Women headquarters to discuss ideas on how to work with young people to promote gender equality and help young women to build leadership skills through taekwondo.

The WTF taekwondo demonstration team’s performance at UN headquarters marked the first leg of a high-profile North American tour, which will see it go on to visit the World Bank in Washington D.C. and the United States Military Academy, also in New York. 

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