There are more than 60-million-plus refugees and displaced people who are being persecuted for reasons of race, religion and territorial dispute throughout the world. World Taekwondo(WT) has established the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation(THF), and International Olympic Committee(IOC) has found Olympic Refuge foundation to help and empower young refugees and displaced people.
We met WT President Chungwon Choue, President of the THF and Board member of the Olympic Refugee Foundation, to discuss on taekwondo, humanitarian aid, and future plans.
0. What do IOC members internally and externally think about its newly created foundation?
|World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue.|
As you know, the refugee problem is big issue around the world. Before we launch the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, I did not know that how many refugees are in the world. The IOC has decided to give a chance to refugee athletes to participate the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. We are the first International federation to accept one Iranian refugee athlete, who has received the citizen from Belgium, to participate the Rio Olympic Games. I believe the inaugural Olympic Refuge Foundation and the IOC were very and timely needed action. I’m really honored and proud that I can be an inaugural founding board member.
0. At the meeting, you did propose on creation of Youth Olympic Refugee Team for Buenos 2018 Youth Olympic Games. So, could you explain more about the foundation’s work?
Activities regarding refugees need its sustainability. I was thinking, if young refugees can participate in the coming Youth Olympic Games, then it would be a great chance for them. So, I proposed to give the chance to young refugees. The IOC is going to raise the issue as an official agenda and decide it at the Pyeongchang IOC Session.
As you know, Vise-President of the Olympic Refuge foundation is the High Commissioner of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees(UNHCR). He agreed that once IOC makes decision for the young children in refugee camps, the UNHCR will support the idea.
|President Chungwon Choue is visiting refugee camp in Azraq, Jordan.|
0. Taekwondo, especially WT has taken a leading role for the IOC and UN’s plans to make social development through sport. What is the characteristics of taekwondo?
Taekwondo is different sport than any other Olympic sports. Taekwondo is based on its own philosophy and courtesy. I believe taekwondo is only combat sport based on this kind of philosophy.
I believe all Olympic sports should do something for the contribution to the human society. I think taekwondo and WT are a pioneer.
0. It is not easy decision to invest in refugees. Why did you decide to establish the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation in Lausanne, Switzerland?
Of course, I could establish the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation(THF) in Seoul, Korea. But as international sport activities are only going in Lausanne, where the IOC headquarter is in. If we found the foundation in Lausanne and within the Switzerland Law, it can be more officially recognized.
Financial resources of the THF is not from our federation, World Taekwondo. Many people want to support us and we already have quiet lots of money.
And few weeks ago, the Huamin Charity Foundation from China gave US$ 200,000 to Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation.
We are going to build the taekwondo academy in Azraq, Jordan in March or April next year. It is another initiation of World Taekwondo. Many other international federations will follow our activities as a role model.
|Azraq Refugee camp in Jordan.|
0. Where was the most difficult area to establish taekwondo refugee camp?
I have already been several refugee camps, like Nepal, Kilis Camp in Turkey, Azraq in Jordan, and Markazi camp in Djibouti. But the Djibouti refugee camp’s situation is very poor and difficult. Around one thousand five hundred Yemeni refugees are at the Markazi refugee camp. When we were there, many kids just followed our groups, looking for something. We only brought some T-shirts and taekwondo uniforms.
One 7~8-years-old female kid, kept following me, while I was there. I cannot forget her eyes. She was really looking for somethings.
From 2018, we’re going to do more activities for African refugees, starting with the Djibouti and the Rwanda refugee camp in Ethiopia. I hope one of refugees will become an Olympic medalist.
0. How can refugees become an Athlete Member of the Refugee Olympic Team?
Firstly, they must follow the regulation of the Qualification system of the WT and IOC. But the coming Youth Olympic Games is somewhat different. Once we select an athlete, we can negotiate with the IOC. Therefore, the refugees can participate in Youth Olympic Games, not only from the Qualification tournament, but also from a wild card. So, it will be a great experience and to refugee children and give them hopes and dreams through our sport, taekwondo.
|Taking a picture with refugee children in Azraq, Jordan.|
0. What kind of other works can do in refugee camps?
At the refugee camp, there are many refugees are suffering from medical services. one medical school is going to refugee camps with us. We’re not just teaching taekwondo, but teaching how to leave as a good global citizen and what is the importance of Olympics and Olympism. These education programs will be supporting refugee children a lot.
0. Lastly, would you like to send a message to the Global Taekwondo family regarding THF and Olympic Refuge Foundation world?
Many countries are participating to support the Taekwondo Humanitarian foundation. We will do more things to support young children in many different refugee camps in 2018. Giving the hope and dream to refugee children is our mission in 2018. I hope our member of national associations and continent unions will support our motto.
<Interviewer= Hye Jin Choi, Editor= Teak Jin Yang, Video= Min Kyung Kim>
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