WKF President Antonio Espinós has hailed the global impact of the European and Pan American Karate Championships ©WKF

The success of the recent European and Pan-American Championships demonstrates the growth the sport is currently experiencing worldwide ahead of the sport’s likely Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, World Karate Federation President Antonio Espinós has claimed.

Karate, along with baseball softball, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing, was approved for inclusion at Tokyo 2020 last week’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board meeting in Lausanne.

The decision has paved the way for all five to be officially added when the issue is voted on at the IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro between August 1 and 4. 

It came after two major karate events were staged in May as the European Karate Championships were held in France, before the Pan American Championships took place in Rio de Janeiro. 

Espinós, who has spearheaded the sport’s push to become a part of the Olympic programme for the first time, believes the two competitions gave a perfect example of how it has developed across the globe.

“The successful organisation of our Continental Championships indicates the expansion that karate is experiencing worldwide,” the Spaniard said.

“Not only our discipline enjoys tremendous popularity around the world for our values and our ideals, but also karate is widely regarded as a spectacular, modern and highly entertaining sport because of events like these continental championships.”

The European Karate Championships in Montpellier drew huge crowds inside the venue and on television
The European Karate Championships in Montpellier drew huge crowds inside the venue and on television ©WKF

Hosts France were the dominant nation at the European Championships, hosted by Montpellier from May 5 to 8, as they finished at the summit of the medals table with 11.

The session of finals, staged on the last day of the event, attracted a crowd of 6,000 people, while the tournament was also televised in 35 countries all over the world.

It was streamed live on WKF YouTube channel, which attracted nearly 100,000 on the last day.

“The European Championships in Montpellier represent the perfect example of the true notion of our sport: great level of competition, flawless organisation in splendid setting, and devoted and animated spectators; all these elements contribute to confirm that our hard work is taking karate to new levels of excellence,” added Espinós, who is also the head of the European Karate Federation.

The Pan American Championships in the 2016 Olympic Games host city, which took place from May 25 to 28, concluded in similar fashion to its European equivalent as Brazil ended at the summit of the medals table with 13, six of which were gold.

It also experienced high audiences both on television and in the stands and gave people the chance to experience international competition ahead of Rio 2016, due to begin with the Opening Ceremony on August 5.