The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) says it has been confirmed by the European Olympic Committees (EOC) that the sport will feature at the 2019 European Games in Minsk.
This comes despite the first vice-president of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the Republic of Belarus omitting the sport when outlining what he described as the “most likely” programme in a recent interview.
Maksim Ryzhenkov told BelTA earlier this month that the sports programme will most likely comprise of acrobatics, boxing, canoeing, road and track cycling, artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, judo, rowing, sambo, table tennis, trampoline tumbling, table tennis and freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.
Taekwondo, which was one of the 20 sports that featured on the programme of the inaugural European Games in Baku last year, was not mentioned.
However, the WTF has told insidethegames it has received assurances from the EOC that the sport will have its place in Belarus’ capital.
“The World Taekwondo Federation, working with the European Taekwondo Union, is in regular contact with the European Olympic Committees and it has been confirmed by the EOC that taekwondo will be on the sport programme of the 2019 European Games in Belarus,” a statement from the international governing body reads.
“The taekwondo competition at the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015 was a great success and the WTF will work with the EOC, the Belarus Organising Committee and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that it builds and improves on this success at the 2019 European Games.”
Ryzhenkov also told BelTA the team sport programme is likely to include 3×3 basketball and beach volleyball, and suggested women’s hockey could make the line-up as well.
He said preference will be given to sports which offer qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo when it comes to deciding the programme for the 2019 European Games.
At Baku 2015, 12 of the 20 sports offered qualification for Rio 2016.
Taekwondo provided ranking points, along with sports like archery and wrestling, and others offered direct qualification, such as shooting, table tennis and triathlon.
Ryzhenkov insisted the move will make the second edition of the European Games “more attractive for the world’s top athletes” and, in turn, “will drive sales of broadcasting rights and increase the exposure of the quadrennial event”.
He admitted, however, that the number of sports to be represented at Minsk 2019 is still under consideration.
insidethegames has contacted the EOC for comment.