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Well wishes pour in for int'l martial arts event

All Headlines 10:42 August 30, 2016

CHEONGJU, South Korea, Aug. 30 (Yonhap) -- With its opening just four days away, messages from martial arts leaders, players, coaches and sponsor groups are streaming in, wishing for the success of an upcoming international martial arts competition to be held in central South Korea, organizers said Tuesday.

Dubbed the "Martial Arts Olympics," the inaugural World Martial Arts Masterships (http://www.2016martial-arts.kr) will be staged from Sept. 2-8 in the city of Cheongju, some 130 kilometers south of Seoul, in North Chungcheong Province, bringing together more than 2,000 fighters and officials from across the world. A total of 173 gold medals are up for grabs in 17 non-Western martial arts, including taekwondo, wushu, judo, kendo, muay thai and kickboxing.

Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov recently sent the organizing committee a letter thanking it for hosting the competition.

"Martial arts go hand in hand with history and culture. I hope for the successful hosting of the World Martial Arts Masterships that will show such an important aspect," Massimov, also president of the Federation of Amateur Muay Thai of Asia, was quoted as saying.

He also expressed hope that all participating players, coaches and referees will make good memories in the beautiful city of Cheongju.

Bae Hyeong-sik, president of the Korean Kurash Association, said he is pleased with the upcoming martial arts competition that has kurash as an official event for the first time.

"I have been making efforts for the successful hosting of the competition in the hope that more Koreans will know about the sport," he said. Kurash is an ancient type of upright jacket wrestling which originated in the territory of modern Uzbekistan.

Jeon Ki-young, a former judoka who won the gold medal in the 86-kg class during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and now teaches judo at Yongin University south of Seoul, also sent a congratulatory and well-wishing message.

"I am really glad to be able to provide little support for the Masterships' success which takes place in my hometown of Cheongju," said Jeon, who also serves as a goodwill ambassador for the event. "I hope Cheongju will emerge as a global hub of martial arts.

Bae Jae-seok, an aikido player who will compete in the 80-kig plus division, said he will do his best to win a medal regardless of the color. "I will try to pull off a good show in order to enhance the honor of South Korea and Cheongju."

North Chungcheong Province Gov. Lee Si-jong, who is also chief organizer for the event, hoped that Cheongju will become the global hub of martial arts. "Cheongju will emerge as the global epicenter of martial arts just as Athens, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. I expect the Korean people to lend support for the successful hosting of the martial arts competition," he said.

According to the organizing committee, about 2,200 athletes and officials from 87 countries have signed up for the event, with more than 1,400 matches to be held.

The event's torch will be lit at a hillside castle in the city on the eve of the competition before staying for a night at the city hall and being moved to the main gymnasium.

On the opening day, the World Martial Arts Masterships Committee (WMC) will be established to help manage the competition systemically and build the legitimacy of the event by cooperating with international organizations.

The 30-member WMC will cooperate closely with the International Centre of Martial Arts for Youth Development and Engagement (ICM), an institute under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in running the competition and naming future host countries. The ICM is based in Cheongju.

In mid-July, the organizers signed a cooperation agreement with the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC), the national Olympic body, for a successful event and claimed this will be the first step to getting recognized by the IOC. The organizers said they want to see athletes who compete at the Olympics and the Asian Games entering their event in the future.
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