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Breakthrough deal allows North Korea at Olympic taekwondo competitions

August 25, 2014, 19:34 UTC+3 SEOUL
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SEOUL, August 25. /ITAR-TASS/. A breakthrough deal was inked in China between two governing taekwondo organizations allowing North Korean athletes to compete in the Summer Olympic Games, Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.

According to the agency, the relevant memorandum was signed last Thursday in China’s Nanjing, which currently hosts the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games, between the North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and the Seoul-based World Taekwondo Federation (WTF).

President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach witnessed the signing of the agreement, which was inked by WTF President Chungwon Choue and ITF President Ung Chang.

Up to the moment of the agreement’s signing, the WTF had been the only international body recognized by the IOC and therefore only the member states of the Seoul-based federation were allowed to compete in the Summer Olympics. The ITF had not been recognized by the IOC and had no right sending its representatives to the Olympics.

Following the signing of the breakthrough agreement, Bach called the deal "a historic step for taekwondo - it is a kind of family reunion."

"With common roots and common history, the two federations belong to the same family and it is great to see such an accord," the official WTF website quoted Bach as saying. "It is in the best interests of the young athletes and lays a firm foundation for cooperation for the future."

WTF President Chungwon Choue said he was delighted "to have signed this agreement with the ITF".

“We are always looking at ways to develop and evolve taekwondo for the benefit of athletes and fans and opening up our relationship with the ITF is a key way of doing this,” he said. “With this agreement, the WTF will do its upmost to ensure that every taekwondo athlete has the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games.”

ITF President Ung Chang said, "It is great that the two organizations finally reached an agreement for cooperation after many years of discussions and efforts. This is only the beginning of our cooperation and there will be more to achieve together."

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