The Karate1 Premier League series will undergo changes for the 2017 campaign ©WKF

The World Karate Federation’s (WKF) flagship annual competition series, the Karate1 Premier League, will undergo widespread changes effective from 2017 in order to enhance the visibility of the sport, its President Antonio Espinós has revealed.

Currently, world karate’s governing body allows a maximum of 10 Premier League events to take place each calendar year, but in 2017 this will be capped at eight.

The best eight events based on the 2016 season will form the basis of the new calendar, which will incorporate a slightly different format.

Competitions will be held over three days instead of two, with finals, scheduled for the Sunday of each event, televised across the world by the WKF and a series of rights holders.

The WKF have already made agreements with television companies, as well as a commercial arm to help market and sell the rights to the events, Espinos claimed.

The 2015 Karate1 Premier League season finished today here in Okinawa
The 2015 Karate1 Premier League season finished last week in Okinawa ©Xavier Servolle/WKF

“We have already decided on these changes,” Espinós, also the President of the European Karate Federation, said.

“The format will be similar to how we broadcast our World Championships and European Championships.

“This will allow us to multiply the visibility and exposure of our sport by as much as nine or 10.

“In karate there is huge activity around the world and other events will still be able to be held but under the guidance of the WKF.

“This will enable them to increase the quality and the level - we don’t have to limit the amount of competitions but we have to limit those which will be televised.”

It is not yet known whether the series of events will still be called the Premier League but Espinós confirmed, if the name remains in place, only those eight competitions which will be broadcast will be able to use the title.

Other events will also be held but they will be held under a different banner.

A total of 10 Premier League events are scheduled for next year, starting in Paris in January, with the grand final due to take place here for the third consecutive campaign.

The series will also visit America and Africa, with exact dates and locations still to be confirmed by the WKF.

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