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Karate in the Olympic Games (Part 2)

by on June 25, 2009

The IOC has just finished viewing presentations of the 7 sports competing for addition to the Olympics. In this article, they link to a report created in 2005 when karate was evaluated for inclusion and a summary of karate’s fulfillment of the 33 selection criteria that the IOC will be using to select 2 recommendations for inclusion.

The report identifies the WKF as the foremost authority on sport karate. In this report, some very interesting numbers are given. Although not a lot of references are given (read: almost zero), we can assume the numbers of coming from the WKF.

Anyways, here are some interesting results.


The WKF has 173 Member National Federations, of which
169 correspond to one of the 202 NOCs

“The WKF has 173 Member National Federations, of which 169 correspond to one of the 202 NOCs”

What this means is that as it stands right now, karate may be 21 countries short of a strong international presence needed to have a lot of support for consideration by the IOC. The IOC has “intervals” set at which a sport is considered widespread or not. It has set 110 countries as a “very low” support, anywhere between 110 and 190 as “acceptable”, and a presence in more than 190 countries as “strong” support. A more up to date statement of the number of national WKF affiliates shows that its only 1 country short of the 190, at 189. There are a reported 202 countries in the world as stated by the IOC.

The distribution of member countries is as follows:

“Africa 40 (53)

America 37 (42)

Asia 37 (44)

Europe 46 (48)

Oceania 9 (15)

Total 169 (202)”

The parenthesized number is the total country count for that continent. Karate’s numbers in Oceania, Asia (big surprise there), and Africa are low. I haven’t tracked down the exact list of countries covered on each continent, but I suspect the African and American countries missing are the more impoverished countries, and the Oceania countries include tiny islands.


Regarding attendance at the 2002 Karate World’s,

“100% of the 24,000 tickets available were sold at the 2002

World Championships.

85% of the 36,000 tickets available were sold at the 2000 World

Championships.” [30,600 total]

Wow, that’s pretty good. That’s a medium size arena. In comparison, UFC 99 in Cologne, Germany, witnessed about 12,800 arena spectators. Granted, that’s not even a world tournament.

Regarding television coverage,

“Number of countries where the last two World Championships

(WC) were broadcast:

– Men’s: 7

– Women’s: 7″

This is considered very low by IOC standards.


“The WKF generates 25.8% of its income through marketing and broadcasting”

Pretty good considering that it doesn’t reach a large spectator audience. Of note, Adidas and Tokaido are two of its well-known financial supporters. There was no mention of the WKF budget, which would put the 25.8% into perspective. Some digging around the Web might be needed here.

All-in-all, I’d have to say the report is not looking great for karate. I was more optimistic for karate in the Olympics in the past, but I have to say that the prospects are not looking so good. From the WKF perspective, they are possibly quite pleased with how karate has progressed regarding international recognition and viewership, but when these numbers are compared to those for baseball, rugby, and golf (see the report for details [PDF]), the numbers are meager.

The IOC will decide on 2 sports to recommend for inclusion some time in July, before the host for the 2016 Games is announced.


From → competition, news

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