Comments by Chungwon Choue, President World Taekwondo Federation
At a time when international sport is facing many difficulties, it is important that we do not
forget the positive contribution sport can make, and is making, to global development and peace.
The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace serves as an important
reminder of sport’s immeasurable potential to act as a vehicle for positive change.
Sport unites people, irrespective of their nationality, religion, age, gender, or social
background; it promotes tolerance and teaches understanding and respect; and it provides joy and hope during times of difficulty and despair.
We, in the Olympic Family, have an obligation to harness this power of sport. It is a
universal language which touches every corner of the globe and we must make the most of its unparalleled global reach and popularity.
Under IOC President Thomas Bach’s leadership, the Olympic Movement has
strengthened its collaboration with the United Nations in order to assist in creating a better and peaceful world. We have seen how sport has made a significant contribution to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and the growing recognition of sport’s capacity to serve society, which was reflected by its inclusion in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in September last year.
International Federations and National Olympic Committees are doing excellent
work around the world to use sport to promote healthy lifestyles, education and social
inclusion. Working together under the leadership of the IOC we have the capacity to play a major role in accelerating change and breaking down social barriers.
At the World Taekwondo Federation, we are working hard to ensure that we fulfil our social responsibility.
We are establishing the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) to assist the
global community with the growing refugee crisis around the world. The THF deploys
teams of taekwondo instructors to teach the sport to young people in refugee camps around the world; keeping them active and instilling in them the taekwondo philosophy and values of Olympism.
We are fortunate that taekwondo is a sport which requires minimal equipment and so
can be easily practised in areas with little or no permanent sports infrastructure. This
allowed us to quickly launch pilot projects in refugee camps in Jordan and Nepal at the end of 2015 and early 2016 and we have plans to further expand into Turkey and other
In just a few months, we have already witnessed how these projects have inspired
hope and greatly enhanced the lives of those that have taken part.
This message of hope has been reinforced by the IOC Executive Board’s decision to
create a team of Refugee Olympic Athletes for the Olympic Games Rio 2016. It has shown that sport truly knows no barriers and that everyone should have the possibility to practise sport as a basic human right. We strongly support this initiative, and earlier this year we had our very own refugee athlete qualify for Rio 2016 after we amended our laws to allow refugees to compete at the Games.
Together it is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the Olympic Movement to
ensure that as many people around the world have access to sport and its many benefits. In doing so we will not only improve the lives of individuals today, but also create a more peaceful and harmonious tomorrow.
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.