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WTF becomes latest federation to step away from SportAccord, World Combat Games

The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) has today (Monday) become the latest sports body to withdraw from the World Combat Games and suspend its membership of SportAccord in the wake of the controversy whipped up by the latter organisation’s president, Marius Vizer.

During the WTF general assembly in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, president Chungwon Choue said the decision had been taken following the unanimous agreement of the WTF Council and its members.

Choue added: “Taekwondo is more than a sport; it is a philosophy. It is a philosophy based on self-discipline, integrity and respect and at the WTF we believe we have an obligation to stay true to these values. It is with regret that taekwondo will not participate in the World Combat Games. However, we will continue to promote taekwondo and the Olympic values around the world and develop our sport for our athletes and our millions of fans worldwide.”

The WTF’s decision comes after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) took a similar stance last week. At last month’s SportAccord Convention – World Sport and Business Summit in Sochi, Vizer launched an attack on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its recent Agenda 2020 reforms during his opening address.

IOC president Thomas Bach came in for particularly strong criticism, prompting the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) to immediately withdraw from SportAccord and lead 14 federations in signing a letter denouncing Vizer’s comments. AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu last week claimed that participation in the SportAccord-affiliated World Combat Games undermined boxing’s standing as a traditional Olympic sport.

In March, the Peruvian capital of Lima was appointed to host the 2017 World Combat Games. The 2017 event was due to feature 16 different sports. More than 2,500 athletes were set to take part in competitions that stretched across 33 disciplines and 135 categories.

The first-ever edition of the World Combat Games took place in the Chinese capital of Beijing in 2010, with Russia finishing as overall champion. The 2013 Games were staged in the city of St. Petersburg in Russia, where the host nation successfully defended its title. The featured sports at St. Petersburg 2013 were: aikido, boxing, fencing, judo, jujitsu, karate, kendo, kickboxing, muaythai, sambo, savate, sumo, taekwondo, wrestling and wushu.

The latest development comes after Vizer sought to stand by his controversial comments in an interview with the Japan Times newspaper on Saturday. Stating that he has “truth on my side”, Vizer said: “Everything I expressed in my declaration at the opening of the SportAccord general assembly reflects realities, which need to be remediated with dialogue, solutions and action – in this particular order – and in the shortest time possible.

“I particularly respect and I am convinced of the values of Olympism for the entire society, of the values attached to the Olympic Games, but I will militate that the structure existing behind these incontestable values of humanity has as priority visions and strategies based on real issues of modern sports.”

Vizer added: “I consider that through my attitude I protect the very interests of Olympism and the fact that in a democratic society we can approach real subjects and express freely ideas about fairness and principles of the system is very important. I also consider that these are the primary subjects that need solution and I believe that with my initiative a door is being opened, a door that has been closed for tens of years. And my declarations come exactly in the sense of progress and positive change, not the contrary.”