N.Korean Taekwondo Athletes May Compete in Olympics

North Korean taekwondo players may be able to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The World Taekwondo Federation said on its website on Monday that the federation's chief Choue Chung-won of South Korea signed a memorandum of intent with the International Taekwondo Federation president Chang Ung of North Korea last Thursday in Nanjing, China during the Youth Olympic Games.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, witnessed the signing of the agreement.

"We are delighted to have signed this agreement with the ITF. We are always looking at ways to develop and evolve Taekwondo for the benefit of athletes and fans, and opening up our relationship with the ITF is a key way of doing this," Choue was quoted as saying.

Chang Ung, president of the International Taekwondo Federation, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, and Choue Chung-won, president of the World Taekwondo Federation (from left), pose after signing a memorandum of intent in Nanjing, China last Thursday. /Courtesy of the World Taekwondo Federation Chang Ung, president of the International Taekwondo Federation, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, and Choue Chung-won, president of the World Taekwondo Federation (from left), pose after signing a memorandum of intent in Nanjing, China last Thursday. /Courtesy of the World Taekwondo Federation

Under the agreement, taekwondo players from both federations can participate in each other's competitions under the rules of each organization.

Bach called the agreement "a historic step for taekwondo," as all taekwondo players will have the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games.

Taekwondo became an official Olympic sporting event at the 2000 Games in Sydney, but ITF member athletes were unable to compete because the IOC recognized only the WTF and its official rules. The ITF did not accept the WTF's rules.

The WTF and ITF had been negotiating the issue of Olympic participation since last year.

ITF chief Chang said, "This is only the beginning of our cooperation and there will be more to achieve together."

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 26, 2014 12:05 KST