World Karate Federation (WKF) President Antonio Espinós has admitted the 2020 World Championships in Dubai need to be “perfect” as the sport bids to keep its place on the Olympic programme beyond Tokyo 2020.

The martial art will make its Games debut in Japan’s capital after being added to the schedule in 2016 alongside baseball/softball, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding

However, its place at future editions of the Olympics remains uncertain with the International Olympic Committee due to rule on sports for Paris 2024 in December of 2020.

This means that the 2020 World Championships in Dubai in November, after the sport’s Olympic debut, will provide one last chance to showcase credentials.

Espinós was in the United Arab Emirates city today to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with local organisers.

“This is one event that we need to be perfect,” the Spaniard said.

“The World Championships is our single biggest event.

“It is held every two years and nearly 120 member associations and 1,200 take part in it.

“But the 2020 World Championships become even bigger because the International Olympic Committee will meet towards the end of that year to decide the list of sports that will be a part of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

“So delivering the perfect World Championships in Dubai, along with our performance at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, will be critical.

Karate will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images
Karate will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

“It is a big responsibility, but I am confident we will, together with Dubai Sports Council and the UAE Karate Federation, deliver a great World Championships in 2020 to not only strengthen the position of karate as a sport, but also help it grow.”

This year’s World Championships will be held in Spanish capital Madrid after an edition in Linz in Austria last year.

“It is a great honour for us to be the first city in the Gulf region to host the Karate World Championships, which incidentally is the 25th edition of this hugely popular event,” said Saeed Hareb, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council.

“It is going to be a very important edition of the Karate World Championships and being chosen to host this special event only confirms Dubai’s position as one of the preferred destinations for the world’s top sporting events.

“In 2020, Dubai will also be hosting the World Expo, so the athletes coming here for the World Championships, along with the travelling officials and fans, will enjoy the incredible atmosphere that the Expo will generate.

“The presence of these top athletes, of course, will be a boost for karate in the UAE, inspiring our youngsters to take up this fantastic sport, which is not just a means of staying physically active but is also hugely beneficial on the mental side, improving your focus, discipline, mental toughness and confidence.

“We want to encourage our youngsters to embrace different sports and the Karate World Championships will certainly assist us in our endeavours.”