I have to write this because I’ve just been keeping my mouth shut and rolling my eyes every time I see someone get all excited about the Protocol of Accord that Chang Ung and the North Korean ITF signed with the WTF and the International Olympic Committee.
Initially it raised more questions than answers and now that I’ve had some time to think about it and do some research, I’m annoyed by it even more!
Let’s take this step by step.
On August 21st, a facebook post went out stating:
“…as of today 21st August 2014, a historical meeting between Prof. Dr. Chang UNG, ITF President and Dr. Chou Chungwon, WTF President took place in Nanjing, China where both Presidents apposed their respective signatures at the bottom of Protocol of Accord under the presence of Dr. Thomas Bach, IOC President.”
What is it that makes this historical? What is it that makes this important?
Here’s a copy of the Protocol of Accord:
The opening paragraph is sweet and informs us that the ITF and WTF to some extent are inseparable and are about to agree to certain principles I’ve commented on below.
“WTF and ITF recognize and respect each other as international organizations of Taekwondo…” This must mean that they are finally going to stop pretending that the other does not exist. Good for them.
“…and provide cooperation and joint efforts in good faith for the further development and prosperity of Taekwondo in the world including in the Olympic movement.” This opens the door for future cooperation. They speak of an international demo team later in the document, but that seems to be about as far as it goes.
“For the purpose of mutual understanding and unity, WTF and ITF will allow competitors and practitioners under their respective federations to participate reciprocally in championships and events to be hosted by both federations, subject to each federations rules of competition.” You can already do this. I know because I’ve competed in many WTF tournaments.
So nothing new here.
“WTF and ITF will seek to establish possible opportunities to have ITF competitors participate in Olympic Games as early as Rio 2016.”
I have to call massive B.S. on this one. This is already possible and has been for some time.
I looked into this myself when I was interested in competing in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. All that is required is that I get a certificate through the Kukkiwon and jump through the hoops of USA Taekwondo (the national organiaztion) and their qualification process. I chose not to go down that path at the time because I was training for the 2004 ITF World Championships in South Korea.
And why are they only going to “seek to establish possible opportunities” for ITF competitors? There is absolutely no certainty in that statement. Why can’t they just come out and say that they are going to invite ITF competitors to compete in Rio in 2016 under WTF rules?
“WTF and ITF will form respectively it’s own Taekwondo demonstration team consisting of multinational practitioners and make the active promotion of Taekwondo through the world with their international tour all over the world including southern and northern parts of Korea, the motherland of Taekwondo according to the timing and the maturity of the circumstances.”
It was good to hear them refer to “southern and northern parts of Korea”, suggesting one Korea. Also, I suppose there is going to be some demonstration team doing some traveling in the future.
So the only big take-a-ways from this are that Chang Ung wants ITF competitors in the Olympics fighting WTF rules (which could already be done) and there’s going to be a demonstration team.
Why does any of this matter? How are you going to benefit from this?
You won’t. It has next to no impact on the average ITF or WTF instructor or practitioner. Most will train and never compete or coach in a World Championships or Olympic Games so they don’t really care. And those that do, don’t really have any incentive to start training to fight under a different organization’s rules unless it’s their personal preference.
The next question is, how are the parties involved going to benefit from this?
I could vent about it in my own words, but I’ll let this piece of an article from the BusinessInsider.com tell the story. This is from an article titled,
Olympics, Inc: Inside The Secretive, $6 Billion World Of The International Olympic Committee
IOC Subsidiary #1: The National Olympic Committees that build the teams in each country
Most of the big money raised by the International Olympic Committee flows down from the IOC to various subsidiaries in each country.
First, there are 205 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in each country, which train and recruit the teams that compete in the Olympics.
The NOCs nurture athletes from a young age through the main event. In countries that lack sophisticated sports programs, building a team costs extra money, which the IOC provides.
The US Olympic Council also gets extra money because of their standout market value with regards to TV and sponsorship.
International Olympic Committee support to National Olympic Committees (2005-2008): $370 million (not counting US and host countries). The IOC also provides travel and accommodation for Olympic teams.
Photo: USOC Chairman Larry Probst.
Source: The IOC
IOC Subsidiary #2: International Federations that preside over the sports
Next are International Federations.
IFs organize international rules and tournaments for sports. The IOC provides financial support to 28 IFs for summer sports and 7 IFs for winter sports. For many, like the World Curling Association, this constitutes the majority of their revenue. Only a few, such as FIFA, could survive without the IOC.
IOC support (2005-2008): $0.42 billion
After reading this, you have to ask yourself again… Who is it that really benefits from this Protocol of Accord?
First, there’s the money from the IOC that flows down to the NOC’s in each country. Since the WTF is already in every country except North Korea, with the ITF inclusion, that means more money for North Korea. And because North Korea could claim that they lack sophisticated sports programs, and that building a team would cost extra money (which the IOC provides) they’ll probably get that as well.
Second, is the International Federations. The only IF (International Federation) for Taekwondo that is recognized by the IOC is the WTF. Does that first principle listed above mean that the ITF (specifically Chang Ung’s) is now a recognized IF by the IOC? If so, there’s another layer of financial support coming from the IOC.
This agreement, on the surface is exciting and new because ITF, WTF, IOC and “agreement” are all being used in the same sentence.
But when you look deeper, no matter how you slice it, it seems that North Korea is the only one really benefiting from this Protocol of Accord.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Please post your comments below!
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do winning numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com