05 Jun 2023 – IOC President Thomas Bach was in the Azerbaijan capital, Baku, at the weekend for the World Taekwondo Championships.
President Bach was greeted on his arrival by the President of World Taekwondo, Dr Chungwon Choe, who accompanied him throughout his visit. The Federation is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Dr Choe informed President Bach that they had organised the World Championships with the participation of athletes with Russian and Belarussian passports, fully respecting the IOC’s recommendations, and that the process had been very smooth. He added that the Federation had refused the participation of two athletes with Russian passports because of the strict conditions in place, and that this had been appreciated by the athletes and member federations. He was also able to inform the IOC President that a record number of national federations were taking part, and that under these circumstances he was even more saddened that the Ukrainian athletes had not been allowed to participate by their federation.
At the World Championships President Bach watched the final stages of the Men’s 74kg and the women’s 62kg categories.
In the women’s category, there was hard-fought final between Liliia Khuzina, an athlete with a Russian passport competing as an Individual Neutral Athlete (AIN), and Brazilian Caroline Santos. Khuzina took the title.
For the men, the final was contested by a Croatian and a Serbian, with Croatia’s Marko Golubić securing victory in the final seconds of the bout. All four athletes later came together to celebrate on the podium.
In talks, athletes made it clear that they wanted to compete against the best athletes in the world, no matter which country they came from, because they wanted to feel like true champions. At the same time, they appreciated the IOC’s recommendations.
The IOC President also met Kimia Alizadeh from the Refugee Olympic Team, who was competing in Baku after recent surgery, and who is striving to qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
Speaking after the event, President Bach praised the organisation by World Taekwondo and the work of the Azeri organising committee. He also praised the sport of taekwondo, saying: “This has been such a great showcasing for the Olympic sport of taekwondo. It was a great opportunity to see the great respect and friendship of athletes from the 144 member federations registered. It was the most fitting way to celebrate 50 years of the federation, and its shows the great promise for another excellent appearance of taekwondo at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.”
Earlier, President Bach had been received by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilam Aliyev, at the Presidential Palace. President Aliyev is also Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement of 120 nations.
The two leaders discussed the very tense geopolitical situation, and both emphasised in this context the unifying mission of Olympic sport and the Olympic Games.
President Bach praised the very positive development of sport in Azerbaijan from the grassroots to the elite level, and the organisation of big sporting events, with a series of world and continental championships being held in the country in 2023 alone.
President Aliyev emphasised the great importance he is giving to the development of sport in Azerbaijan at state level. It was stressed that Azerbaijan has become a place where numerous world-class sports events are organised at a high level, and modern sports infrastructure has been created both in the capital and in the regions of the country.