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Posted : 2009-09-20 21:05
Updated : 2009-09-20 21:05

Government Denies Backing WTF Candidate


World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) President Choue Chung-won and three other candidates are running in the WTF presidential election, scheduled for Oct. 13 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The South Korean government was rumored to be supporting one candidate but it has denied the allegation.
/ Korea Times File

By Kang Seung-woo
Staff Reporter

The South Korean government is denying rumors that it is covertly backing a candidate for the upcoming World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) presidential election, saying the accusations are groundless.

``The Korean government has nothing to do with the WTF election,'' an official of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism told the Hankook Ilbo, a sister paper of The Korea Times.

WTF Vice President Nat Indrapana of Thailand, who is one of four applicants for the top job, stirred up controversy at the British International Taekwondo Tournament in Manchester, which came to an end on Aug. 29, after saying that he and Yoo In-chon, the culture, sports and tourism minister, had reached an agreement that the main office of the WTF would be built in Seoul if Indrapana, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is selected to the position.

``The minister never made a promise like that,'' the government agency stated.

Four candidates ― current President Choue Chung-won, WTF Vice President Park Soo-nam, Athanasios Pragalos, the president of the European Taekwondo Union (ETU), and Indrapana ― have been campaigning for the election, scheduled for Oct. 13 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

At this point in the race, Choue is reportedly running away with the lead over his rivals.

A remark made by Hong Joon-pyo, the head of the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA), gave the rumor new life, further adding fuel to the fire.

``A non-Korean should take charge of the WTF,'' said the former floor leader of the governing Grand National Party (GNP) during a banquet for the Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships last month.

Hong, 54, reportedly added that the president was also on the same page on the issue.

But after his words became a hot issue of discussion, the KTA attempted to put its own spin on the comments, saying, ``What the president said means that taekwondo should be further globalized.''

In addition, Hong, who took over the position in July 2008 after former chief Kim Jung-gil's sudden resignation, appointed former WTF President Kim Un-yong to the post of the honorary chairman in August.

The former WTF President, 78, was arrested on charges of bribery, embezzlement and other irregularities in 2004, which forced him to step down as an IOC member and WTF head, and Choue stepped in to fill the vacancy.

ksw@koreatimes.co.kr

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