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Cartan Global | Tokyo 2020


Developing a new digital strategy to raise the global profile of the sport has been hailed as a key ambition by new World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) secretary general Hoss Rafaty here today, with the new Olympic TV Channel targeted as one potential market.

Officials from the WTF were one of four International Federations who attended an initial meeting to discuss involvement in the Channel.

Precise details of the Channel, confirmed as part of the International Olympic Committee's Agenda 2020 reform process, still have to be confirmed and no date has been given for its launch.

It is being seen as a major opportunity for many Olympic Federations, however, particularly the smaller ones.

Hafaty, the Iranian-born American appointed to his position in May, revealed that the focus for WTF President Chungwon Choue in recent years has been predominantly upon technical matters within the sport, designed to iron out problems with the scoring system and playing area.

With most of these now resolved, the WTF are now targeting becoming more media friendly with the athletes at the centre of the strategy.

Achieving more television deals is one dimension of this and they are also keen to better showcase the sport via social media and other digital platforms, including the WTF's YouTube channel, which is showing live coverage of this weekend's WTF Grand Prix here.

"We need consistent planning to make is relevent and friendly," Rafaty told insidethegames.

"The TV channel is unchartered territory, but we want to be right there next to it."

This was also discussed at a meeting of the WTF TV Commission here yesterday, attended by Rafaty, as well as South Korea’s Yang Jin Bang and France's Roger Piarulli, the respective director generals of the world governing body's offices in Seoul and Lausanne.

They are now considering approaching major distribution and production companies to help develop their product.  

Improving the visual spectacle of a sport is something that has grown in importance as recent years, as Olympic International Federations from across strive to keep their disciplines relevant and fresh.

One of the best examples comes in volleyball, where the International Volleyball Federation have signed an innovative media partnership with Red Bull to broaden their appeal, as well as the range and amount of coverage produced and distributed.

In comparison, taekwondo has focused changing scoring rules to make bouts more exciting, but some other innovative elements have been introduced as part of the WTF Grand Prix series.

This includes the use of music, big screens and a more theatrical presentation based around special sessions for finals.