More than 300 delegates took part in the first virtual edition of the World Taekwondo General Assembly as they heard President Chungwon Choue promise the sport can look forward optimistically to 2021.
This was despite the problems caused by the coronavirus that have wrecked a year in which the sport was due to celebrate the anniversary of its Olympic debut with another appearance at Tokyo 2020 and make its first appearance on the Paralympic Games programme.
A total of 133 Member National Associations (MNAs) and 29 World Taekwondo Council members logged on to make this the sport’s largest-ever non-elective General Assembly.
The General Assembly reviewed and published the “Protocols for Safe Return to Competitions and Training” during COVID-19, which, Choue claimed, will be critical in ensuring taekwondo can take place while protecting the wellbeing of its participants.
"This year has been difficult for World Taekwondo as it has for all sports," Choue told delegates.
"The fact that we had to host this General Assembly virtually for the first time ever is a stark reminder of how serious the global COVID-19 pandemic has become over the past six months.
"Despite our challenges, the taekwondo family remains united and continues to inspire.
"While our priority has been keeping everyone safe, we have also used this period to try and advance taekwondo and provide the best possible support for everyone.
"We are optimistic for what lies ahead."
Association of Summer Olympic International Federations President Francesco Ricci Bitti, joined the General Assembly and praised World Taekwondo for the improvements it has made in good governance, moving up to the second highest grouping following a review.
He claimed the organisation now serves as a role model for other International Federations of a similar size.
A survey of the MNAs was completed by 88 per cent of countries and Choue announced that it was planned to introduce a governance-based ranking system in 2022.
This ranking of MNAs forms part of World Taekwondo’s commitment to good governance and ensuring that all members of the taekwondo family uphold high standards.
As part of this commitment, the General Assembly also heard a status report on the World Taekwondo Integrity Unit which will centralise all integrity-related functions in the sport.
"We are already a well-governed International Federation, but with our collective decisions now and in the coming year, I truly believe that we can aim for the skies and be even better,” Choue said.
Despite the fact no international taekwondo events have taken place since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Choue told the General Assembly that the world governing body had remained active.
He reported that they had organised three Council meetings, more than 80 Committee calls, and around 20 education courses for coaches, referees, educators and technical delegates, all virtually.
So far, 1,000 coaches have participated in online coaching courses.
Online poomsae events are also being organised in many countries and next month World Taekwondo plan to organise the first Online World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships to encourage families and athletes to stay active.
The General Assembly also heard plans about next year’s World Taekwondo and World Para Taekwondo Championships in Wuxi in China next year.
One sad note of the General Assembly was the recent death of Egypt’s Ahmed Fouly, World Taekwondo’s vice-president who passed away last week at the age of 70 following an operation.
A special tribute was paid to Fouly by Choue, who announced that he would be inducted into the World Taekwondo Hall of Fame.