As CEO of USA Taekwondo, I am pleased to make a statement about the current status of USA Taekwondo following the decision by the United States Olympic Committee to remove our organization from its probation status. That decision was made on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, at the quarterly meeting of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
USA Taekwondo was on probationary status for the past two years. The achievement of regaining full National Governing Body (NGB) status is a shared accomplishment that was made possible only through the efforts of many people from throughout our taekwondo community. The work of the USA Taekwondo Board of Directors was quite heroic in all that it had to do to change our governance model from a majority of constituent-based Board directors to a majority of Independent directors. The contributions of several of our experienced and very knowledgeable taekwondo volunteers played a very important role in the revamping of our Bylaws, and in the actual working of several of our committees. As always, the USA Taekwondo staff performed its duties in a professional manner befitting of a National Governing Body. The financial director was instrumental in righting the financial concerns that existed before. All in all, this was a group effort that led to the successful return of USA Taekwondo to the status of a full National Governing Body.
Now the hard work of moving the organization forward begins. We still face difficult financial challenges ahead of us as we seek to better support our athletes, especially in international competitions. With the advent of the World Taekwondo Federation’s Grand Prix competition series, we, as are all member federations of the WTF, are faced with adapting to a new model that will directly determine which athletes will qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. It is now necessary for athletes to “chase points” so that they can earn a top-six finish in the Grand Prix series that will earn the athlete, as well as our country, spots in the Olympic Games. There is no longer a World Olympic Qualification Tournament. A great number of athletes will qualify directly through the Grand Prix series, while there are still allowances for athletes to qualify through Regional Qualifying events.
Next year, we will have several events other than the Grand Prix events (mostly International Opens with WTF G-ratings) to which we will be fielding teams. This includes the Youth Olympic Games Qualification Tournament, the Junior World Championships, the Youth Olympic Games, Cadet World Championships and the Pan Am Championships. On the Poomsae side, there will be the Poomsae World Championships as well. There are three (3) Grand Prix competitions scheduled for 2014. As you might imagine, funding teams for all of these events will be quite a challenge for USA Taekwondo. There is a distinct possibility that all of those events will not receive full funding. That means that athletes may be faced with paying their own expenses to some events next year, as USA Taekwondo strives to rebuild our membership base so that we can eventually fund all international events for our athletes. We will receive some funding from the USOC, but it will not cover all of the events for all teams that will be selected to participate in those events named above. Of course, our preference is to be able to fully fund all teams that represent the USA in international competitions. It is just not feasible for us to do so right now. The taekwondo community came together in a magnificent display of support for our athletes by assisting the Junior Pan Am “B” Team in its trip to Mexico for the Pan Am Junior Championships, and also in support of the Poomsae team that will be competing at the Poomsae World Championships in Bali, Indonesia, at the end of this month. The funding generosity shown by taekwondo family contributors is not something that we can count on to fund future USA teams. Only by increasing our revenue stream, i.e. through increasing our membership enrollment, both individual and clubs, can we expect to fully fund all of our teams of athletes to international competitions. The primary mission of our organization is to support our athletes so that they may achieve sustained competitive excellence. Unfortunately, this refers specifically to Sparring athletes and teams, not Poomsae, since Poomsae is not an Olympic discipline within taekwondo competitions. We are also tasked with developing our sport of taekwondo, and this includes Sparring and Poomsae. To that end, we have proposed altering our current competition model within USA Taekwondo to include a separate National Poomsae Championship that may allow us to develop a revenue stream specifically for Poomsae team support. This would begin, if approved by the Board of Directors, as early as 2015.
I cannot urge our coaches and club owners strongly enough to support USA Taekwondo by registering your school members and your athletes. Even though it is a small percentage of taekwondo practitioners in each dojang who choose to pursue an Olympic dream, all taekwondo students, family members, club owners and coaches can still support our Olympic organization, USA Taekwondo, by joining and becoming members. When our USA Taekwondo athletes are standing tall on the medal podiums around the world, all taekwondo practitioners, family members, coaches and school owners can share the sense of pride in knowing that they support our sport of taekwondo.
In closing, I once again thank the myriad of people who worked hard to insure that USA Taekwondo would remain the National Governing Body of taekwondo in the United States of America. For those of you who shared your support for our organization with us and with others, we also owe you a deep debt of gratitude. Thank you to our taekwondo family for coming together to keep our NGB status a reality. I now solicit your help and support in rebuilding USA Taekwondo through membership and through event participation as we earnestly endeavor to move USA Taekwondo forward to heights never before reached.
Bruce C.K.W. Harris
CEO, USA Taekwondo