1st GCS & 1st THF Asia International Open Taekwondo Championships held in Colombo, Sri Lanka

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By Seok-jae Kang
Vice President, Asia Journalists Association

COLOMBO: The 1st GCS and the 1st THF Asia International Open Taekwondo Championships were held successfully in Colombo, Sri Lanka on December 6-8, 2023.

The two first-ever taekwondo events, the largest in Sri Lanka taekwondo history, took place at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in downtown Colombo, drawing about 1,500 athletes and officials from 10 countries.

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The 1st GCS Colombo International Open Taekwondo Championship took place on December 6 and 7, while the 1st THF Asia International Open Taekwondo championship was held on December 7 and 8.

The two taekwondo championships were jointly organized by the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation, the THF Asia and GCS International, with the full financial support by the THF Asia.

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Among the participating countries were host Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

Among the VIPs who attended the joint opening ceremony of the two taekwondo events on December 7 were World Taekwondo (WT) and GCS International President Dr. Chungwon Choue; GCS Sri Lanka President Kanchana Jayaratna; Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation President Chaminda Punchihewa; Lee Miyon, Korean ambassador to Sri Lanka; Lee Hyeong-taek, president of the THF Asia; and Kang Dae-geun, a board member of GCS International and president of the THF Asia.

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Also on hand were Australia’s Mr. Magableh Maher, president of GCS Australia and a WT Council member; Mr. Prakash Shumsher Rana, president of GCS Nepal and president of the Nepal Taekwondo Association; and Mr. Hazem Ahmad Naimat, vice president of the Jordan Taekwondo Federation, who served as a WT Council member and mayor of Amman, Jordan. Also in attendance were Namdev Shirgaonker, president of GCS India and president of Taekwondo India; Kim In-seon, president of GCS Dallas, USA and a WT Council member; Shaddad Al Amri, president of the Saudi Arabia Taekwondo Federation; Prof. Jung Kook-hyun, a WT Council member; Prof. Suh Joo-hwan, president of GCS Korea; Seok-jae Kang, secretary general of GCS International and senior consultant for the WT Cares Program; and Lee Won-jong, secretary general of GCS Korea.

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A four-member delegation of the International Center for Korean Culture (ICKC), headed by Park Eui-kun, president of the Finance Committee of the ICKC, also participated in the taekwondo events.

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The opening ceremony featured a #play_taekwondo challenge, traditional cultural performances, showing of three videos – the WT Cares Program, the 42nd UN International Day of Peace, and the November 15 IOC Olympic Museum event of the unveiling of a taekwondo statue and the awarding of the Olympic Cup.

WT President Dr. Choue and VIPs joined the challenge event together with international referees and athletes, including WT Cares students.

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In his congratulatory speech, WT and GCS International President Dr. Chungwon Choue said, “My appreciation goes to Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation President Chaminda Punchihewa and Kanchana Jayaratna, president of GCS Sri Lanka and the THF Asia Sri Lanka Chapter on jointly organizing the first-ever GCS and THF Asia taekwondo championships.”

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“World Taekwondo and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation are recognized within the Olympic and Paralympic movements as the pioneer for humanitarian efforts. Our commitment to the refugees and displaced persons has not gone unnoticed by the IOC, as IOC President Thomas Bach awarded the prestigious Olympic Cup to WT and the THF on November 15,” Dr. Choue said. “Just as importantly, WT is actively involved in social development projects that help improve minority groups and the underprivileged in our member nations through the Taekwondo Cares Program. The WT Cares Program is under way in eight countries: Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Timor-Leste and Pakistan.”

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He said, “As you may know, the UN International Day of Peace is celebrated annually on September 21 and I am happy that Taekwondo Cares students are participating in the Colombo taekwondo events to commemorate the meaningful occasion.” “The GCS Movement founder, the late Dr. Young Seek Choue, played a crucial role in the establishment of the UN International Day of Peace in 1981.”

Dr. Choue said, “I also wish to encourage the global Taekwondo family to join the ongoing #play_taekwondo challenge event.” “I want to express my appreciation to the president of the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation and his team for activating the 2023 WT-ADF Sri Lanka Cares Program and for aspiring Olympism and dreams of the Taekwondo Cares students.”

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Kang Dae-geun, president of the THF Asia, said “This Sri Lanka taekwondo events are very meaningful in that they are the first THF Asia-sponsored taekwondo championships.”

The THF Asia was established in March 2022 to help empower refugees and the powerless in the Asian region with its headquarters in Seoul, Korea, with the full support of Dr. Choue, president of WT, GCS International and the THF. The THF Asia, under the wing of the Lausanne, Switzerland-based THF, is speeding up its humanitarian activities in Asia by setting up its national chapters in the Asian region.

“So far, we have established the THF Asia’s national chapters in Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, and here in Sri Lanka. Cambodia and Malaysia  are in the final stage of launching national chapters,” Kang said. “The THF Asia will sponsor THF Asia & GCS taekwondo events in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in 2024. Benchmarking the WT Taekwondo Cares Program, THF Asia will also launch its Cares projects in Kazakhstan and other Asian countries in the near future.”

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THF Asia President Kang has a close working relationship with the Thailand Taekwondo Federation by jointly organizing and/or sponsoring taekwondo events in Thailand. The THF Asia financially supported the 10th Choi Young Seok Cup International Taekwondo Championships in Pattaya, Thailand on February 11-12, 2023. “I plan to support the Choi Young Seok Cup in 2024.” The Korean-born taekwondo master Choi Young Seok, who serves as the head coach of the national taekwondo team of Thailand, was naturalized as a Thai citizen early this year.

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