We talked in exclusive with Kenneth Schunken, Director General of the European Taekwondo Union (ETU), who told us about the re-inclusion of Taekwondo at the European Multi-sport Games.

What does it mean for ETU to be part of the European Games again?

We are very pleased to be included in the program again! Back in 2014, ETU was one of the first European Federations that confirmed its participation in the Games. But unfortunately, the host country Belarus of the 2nd Games did not wanted to include Taekwondo. Being back on the program is for our athletes of the utmost importance in the road to Paris. It gives them an opportunity to compete in a Games environment and fight against the best in Europe!

What interest do these Multisport Games arouse in the MNAs?

For our MNAs the Games are l as of equal importance as for ETU. With this event on the calendar, our MNAs can apply for funding at their NOCs and this helps them to fund their elite programs.

Europe participates in different Games, such as the Mediterranean, Commonwealth and even the Lusophone Games, among others, why do you think it took so long to create a Continental Games?

To find a host country willing to take the financial risk to organize the Games was not easy. Azerbaijan as first host, followed by Belarus, had the financial means to host the Games. Netherlands made a bid but withdrew their bid when the government decided not to support the event financially. In these difficult times with high government expenditures, it is a heavy burden for host countries to support such a huge multi-sports event. We are very curious to see which country will host the 4th edition.

Will Russia remain excluded for the time being?

Only time will tell. Sports should be free from politics, but the harsh reality is that politics is very closely interconnected with politics at the highest geopolitical levels. What we see in Europe is that many government leaders do not want Russian athletes to participate. Also, the mayor of Paris has spoken against Russian participation. From ETU perspective, we have requested WT to reconsider its position regarding Russian participation. ETU will follow the position the IOC will take on the matter.

How are the quota places distributed?

Our President proposed to the Council to distribute quotas to the athletes directly, as they are the ones who win the medals and obtain the ranking points. The top 13 of the WT Ranking at the end of 2022. One quota is allocated to Poland, one to ETU to distribute Universality place in each weight division and 1 quota is given to the gold medalist at the European Qualification Tournament hosted by Romania on 8-9 April.

Which Taekwondo modalities will participate?

ETU agreed with the European Olympic Committees that Taekwondo will have 8 medal events for male and 8 medal events for females. We therefore have the same level as the senior European Championships, with a level G4.