|Athletes from the World Taekwondo and the International Taekwondo Federation celebrate their successful joint performance at the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday (local time). Courtesy of World Taekwondo|
|U.N. Geneva Director-General Michael Moller, center, with World Taekwondo President Choue Chung-won, right, and International Taekwondo Federation President Ri Yong-son at the United Nations office in Geneva, Friday (local time). Courtesy of World Tae|
By Jung Min-ho
South and North Korean athletes promoted peace through taekwondo at the United Nations (UN) office in Geneva, Friday (local time), as they wrapped up an eight-day tour in Europe to mark the 25th anniversary of the martial art becoming an Olympic sport.
Demonstration teams from the World Taekwondo (WT), led by South Korean Choue Chung-won, and the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), under the leadership of Ri Yong-son, showcased performed in front of 150 people, including UN Geneva Director-General Michael Moller.
"(It) is a testament to the power of sport in bringing peace and reconciliation, friendship and harmony," Moller said of the performance.
"Sport is an important enabler to reach out to young people worldwide and to disseminate the values enshrined in the UN Charter."
The athletes performed gravity-defying kicks, spectacular board-breaking and poomsae skills.
Zhao Houlin, head of the International Telecommunication Union, was one of the audience who was impressed by their skills. He expressed hope that the sport would help bring peace to the Korean Peninsula and the world.
"Taekwondo teaches respect, commitment, responsibility and perseverance. These values lie at the heart of the UN Charter," he said.
The two global taekwondo governing organizations began their tour in Vienna, Austria, on April 5 and went to Lausanne, Switzerland, before ending it in Geneva.
It was their latest collaborative event for peace and unity, which started with the signing of a Protocol of Accord at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Last year, the WT and ITF agreed to form a joint organization to integrate taekwondo.
"Today was a symbolic moment for our sport as it was the first time that the WT and ITF have performed together at the UN," Choue said.
"We have different rules, use different equipment and some of the techniques used by our athletes have diverged. But as today's event has proven, we are moving toward unity."
Ri said the ITF would continue to work with the WT.
"Taekwondo is the legacy and pride of mankind as it promotes people's health and aspires for peace and justice," he said. "I hope this historic event will be the opportunity to unify taekwondo."