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Int'l martial arts competition inaugurated in South Korea

All Headlines 20:00 September 02, 2016

CHEONGJU, South Korea, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- An international martial arts competition was inaugurated in South Korea on Friday, with the hope of becoming a global festival like the Olympic Games.

Under the slogan "Martial Arts for One World, One World for Martial Arts," the inaugural World Martial Arts Masterships kicked off a week-long journey in the city of Cheongju, some 130 kilometers south of Seoul, in North Chungcheong Province. The organizers said some 2,000 athletes and officials from 87 countries will take part in 17 events, including taekwondo, judo, kickboxing and kendo. There will be a total of 173 gold medals up for grabs.

The opening ceremony took place at Cheongju University Multipurpose Sports and Culture Complex with some 4,000 people in attendance. Among the attendees were South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Syed Ali, SportAccord Vice President Stephan Fox and the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert.

The ceremony portrayed North Chungcheong Province as "a holy land for martial arts" and introduced the masterships as a grand festival for martial arts practitioners around the world.

"It's an historic day," said North Chungcheong Province Governor and co-chief organizer Lee Si-jong in the opening address. "We can share friendship and harmony through martial arts."

After showing a congratulatory video message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, also a co-chief organizer, declared the opening of the mastership. Martial arts performances and K-pop showcases then followed.

Also on the opening day, the World Martial Arts Masterships Committee (WMC) was established to help manage the competition systemically and build the legitimacy of the event by cooperating with international organizations. The organizers aim to build the masterships into the "Martial Arts Olympics," and want to bring Olympic and Asian Game athletes to their competition in the future.

Lee said the second edition of the mastership will be staged again in South Korea, but he wants to see other countries host the event starting with the third edition.

"Unlike the Olympics, the mastership won't require a big budget to host," he said. "We expect the event to grow together with all sports and martial organizations in the world by maintaining close partnerships."

kdon@yna.co.kr
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