The Cambodia ITF Taekwondo Federation’s (CITF) efforts and persistence have finally paid off after the 2023 Cambodia SEA Games Organizing Committee (CAMSOC) added ITF Taekwondo to the list of sports that will be contested in the regional sports competition.
This is historic, as this would mark the first time the sport will be included in the SEA Games programme.
As the host of the 2023 SEA Games, Cambodia, with the concurrence of the Southeast Asian Games Federation, decides on what sports will be included in the list. There is no limit to the number and the host also has the right to reduce or increase the number of events.
Unlike WTF Taekwondo, ITF Taekwondo is classified as a non-Olympic Sport and not included in the Asian Games, SEA Games and other major, multi-discipline sports competition.
In an interview on Monday, Keo Remy, the chairman of CITF, said they are very happy that CAMSOC Board has finally given its approval to the inclusion of ITF Taekwondo on the 2023 SEA Games programme.
“I wish to extend our thanks to CAMSOC,” he said, mentioning its chairman, Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh, vice president, Tourism Minister Thong Khon and secretary-general, Vath Chamroeun.
“This is a dream come true for us,” he exclaimed. CITF first submitted its bid to become part of the SEA Games two years ago.
According to Keo, CAMSOC has been looking at the Federation for a long time and saw the potential for Cambodia.
Cambodia has performed well in many ITF Taekwondo competitions. The Kingdom took home 31 gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze medals during the First Junior and Senior Southeast Asian ITF Taekwondo Championships held in Phnom Penh four years ago. The tournament
also draws participants from six other countries in Southeast Asia; Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
During the World ITF Taekwondo Championship in Bulgaria last year, Pal Chivorn won a gold medal for Cambodia. The Kingdom also brought home two silver and two bronze medals from that competition.
Pal and Sopheak Chan Oudom also won gold medals during the 9th Asian Taekwon-Do ITF Championships in Mongolia in 2018.
Keo said ITF Taekwondo’s SEA Games inclusion has the support of other countries in Southeast Asia. In addition to Cambodia, the region is also composed of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Philippines.
“Vath Chamroeun had a video call with his counterparts from other Asean countries and majority of them gave their support,” said Keo, adding Thailand has already drafted a formal letter in support of Cambodia.
He said they are only awaiting formal recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic Committee of Asia (OCA).
Keo noted that the philosophy behind sports is never to discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, colour, national origin or religion.
“I am appealing to everyone, including the IOC and OCA, to support us,” he stressed.
General Choi Hong Hi founded ITF Taekwondo in 1955. ITF Taekwondo is known as the original style of Taekwondo. In ITF Taekwondo, self-defence techniques are given emphasis. It also known as the North Korean school of Taekwondo.
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