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  • ATR First: Choue Taekwondo Term Limit Scrutinized in Governance Shake-Up


    (ATR) World Taekwondo is considering term limit plans that could force president Chungwon Choue to step aside in 2021.

    WT secretary general Hoss Rafaty and president Chungwon Choue (ATR)
    Choue of Korea was unopposed in winning his fourth four-year term as head of the federation at its 2017 general assembly in Muju, South Korea. He was first elected to the post in 2004, taking over from Un Yong Kim who resigned in the wake of a scandal over misuse of federation funds. By 2021, he will have occupied the taekwondo hot seat for 17 years.

    Around the Rings has learned that World Taekwondo’s governance and sustainability committee, led by Giovanni di Cola, is currently drafting a strategy plan which includes introducing term limits for the presidency and council.

    It’s part of a major drive to revamp the federation’s governance to lift the taekwondo’s standing in the IOC’s eyes and grow its share of Olympic Games revenues.

    Speaking exclusively to ATR in Manchester on the sidelines of the federation’s annual congress, Choue would not be drawn when asked if it was a good time for him to step aside in 2021 when his mandate expires. “I didn’t think about that,” he said.

    “No, I don’t think so. Before, we are going to have a meeting about the new structure of our governing body. Whatever they decide I’m going to follow,” he told ATR.

    “It will be decided by our council and general assembly next year so we will see.”

    Choue with a special presentation to Grandmaster Tong Wan Shin for his contribution in promoting taekwondo in the UK. (ATR)
    Asked if 17 years was too long for a federation president to be in place, he said “I don’t think so. Some other IFs have a much longer period that they [presidents] are staying.

    “As long as they are innovative and have revolutionary ideas, why not? It is all up to our general assembly.”

    The IOC’s Agenda 2020 reforms and guidance from the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) call for federations to bring in term limits for federation leaders to ensure power is not in concentrated in the hands of a few executives over a period of years.

    World Taekwondo’s 2020 congress in Sofia, Bulgaria is building up to be a pivotal moment in the federation’s history with a raft of governance changes expected to be made.

    The sport’s ruling council will also likely be subject to term limits, which Choue admitted may be a struggle; senior execs will seek to maintain their grip on power at the top table.

    “The shrinking of council members is not that easy. We are thinking about it. There are many possibilities,” Choue said.

    World Taekwondo secretary general Hoss Rafaty added some clarity on the federation’s goals.

    WT General Assembly meets in Manchester  (ATR)
    “It is our [strategy] plan to create term limits for all the positions and it is in our agenda for next year,” he said.

    As part of the ongoing strategy planning, Rafaty said taekwondo was going to “learn from other organisations and create several scenarios and recommend how to do term limitations”.

    With the federation focused on gender equality in male and female athlete competitors at the Olympics and in other showpiece events, it is also aiming for parity in taekwondo’s leadership. This is beginning with the federation’s committees. But currently only 15 percent of World Taekwondo’s council is female.

    “That’s something we are not proud of. We are working to gradually get to the top of the line as soon as possible. We are searching for some talent,” he said.

    The governance revamp comes amid ASOIF’s project to improve the practices and operations of its 33 member federations. Taekwondo performed poorly in a first review but better in a second assessment. It is still ranked in the third quartile (B) of federations. The third ASOIF evaluation comes between December and April 2020.

    “We want to be A-graded. As part of being A-graded, we need to be transparent, we need have consideration for gender equality and everything else. The president wants us to do everything possible to lead other IFs in these changes,” Rafaty said.

    Earlier in the day, Choue called for the cooperation of national federations in attendance to commit wholeheartedly to the governance drive, saying it could not be achieved solely by the international federation.

    “I am confident that governance of World Taekwondo will become a role model for other IFs to benchmark,” he added.

    Reported by Mark Bisson in Manchester, England

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