Monday, July 14, 2008
Do we have enough money for something like WTF?
By Cui Xiaohuo
China Daily Staff Writer
The world's taekwondo chief Chungwon Choue is telling International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge and his compatriot UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to bring the world together through sports.
The 61-year-old, who took the helm of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) in 2004 after the resignation of its founder Kim Un-yong, is eager to push the "Sports Peace Corps" initiative to improve sports in developing countries.
"A Sports Peace Corps should be founded between the UN and the IOC. The IOC's main purpose is world peace through sports. The UN's purpose is also world peace," Choue said during a short visit to Beijing, before running in the Olympic torch relay in Lijiang, Yunan, the first international federation chief to carry the flame on its route to Beijing.
"(Rogge and Ban) really like the idea and they want to support us," Choue said.
For the initial edition of the project this summer, WTF will send eight Peace Corps teams from South Korea, with one interpreter and three coaches on each team, to eight countries developing taekwondo, including East Timor and Kazakhstan in Asia, and Cote d'Ivoire in Africa. This edition will be one-month long, and WTF plans to hold two sessions each year in the future.
Global engagement and acceptance is a key factor for any sport, Choue said.
"Each international federation should have its Peace Corps team with professionals going to more regions of the world," he said. "I hope it will be a model for other sports federations."
As one of the most loved and widely practiced combat sports, taekwondo has more than 60 million practitioners in 188 countries and regions, the sports chief from Seoul said.
The World Taekwondo Federation launched the Taekwondo Peace Corps and the WTF Demonstration Team in a ceremony in Suwon, Korea, on July 5, 2008.
The launch ceremony, which was held at the Suwon campus of Kyung Hee University, drew 27 members of the Taekwondo Peace Corps and 61 members of the WTF Demonstration Team, as well as dozens of dignitaries.
The 27 “2008 Summer” Taekwondo Peace Corps members will be dispatched to five countries in seven teams for a period of one month starting in the middle of this month. The five countries are Russia, Paraguay, India, Pakistan and China. Two teams will be sent to China and India.
The WTF plans to expand the number of Taekwondo Peace Corps members and the countries to which members will be sent starting this winter vacation.
The Taekwondo Peace Corps is promoted by the WTF and organized by GCS International, a United Nations-recognized non-governmental organization with a special consultative status with the U.N. Economic and Social council. GCS stands for goodwill, cooperation and service. WTF President Chungwon Choue heads the two international organizations.
“Through the Taekwondo Peace Corps, the WTF can ultimately contribute to the promotion of world peace,” said WTF President Choue in his welcome speech at the launch ceremony. “After consultations with our 188 member nations, we will dispatch Peace Corps members to taekwondo-developing countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East.”
Dr. Choue said, “If the Taekwondo Peace Corps project is carried out successfully, then we will expand the program to involve all Olympic sports into a ‘Sport Peace Corps’ program, in cooperation with the United Nations and the IOC.”
Shortly after taking the helm of the WTF in June 2004, WTF President Choue promised to launch the Taekwondo Peace Corps, thus helping enhance the image of taekwondo and the WTF in the international sports community.
The Taekwondo Peace Corps idea was first raised by Dr. Choue at an international workshop on sports and peace in Leuven, Belgium on Sept. 21, 2007, and then at an international forum on peace and sport in Monte Carlo, Monaco, on Dec. 6, 2007.
As part of its efforts to further promote taekwondo around the world, the WTF conducted a series of tests before finalizing 61 members of the WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team. The demonstration team will be dispatched abroad upon requests from the WTF’s 188 member countries.
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