The 2021 World Championships present a new Para Taekwondo look

Let the battle for Paris 2024 begin!

The world’s biggest para taekwondo event returns as more than 250 athletes from 41 countries start their journey to Paris 2024 in earnest at the 2021 Para Taekwondo World Championships.

The tournament will feature the new look of Para Taekwondo – more weight classes, different classifications and updated rules. The event will be held in Istanbul, Turkey on December 11-12 and, as a G-14 event, will offer athletes major ranking points in their applications to qualify for Paris 2024.

One of the traditional powers of para taekwondo, Turkey was the only country to qualify a full list of six athletes for Tokyo 2020 and will field a record 58 athletes at the 2021 World Championships.

This is the third time that Turkey has hosted the biggest Para Taekwondo event, after Samsun 2015 and Antalya 2019.

Istanbul 2021 is set to become the second biggest para taekwondo event of all time. The 2019 World Championships brought together 333 athletes from 66 countries, although the event included the discipline Poomsae – which will not be included in Istanbul 2021.

With the new Poomsae rules adopted last week, the next Poomsae World Championships will take place in 2022.

For the first time, two refugee athletes were to compete under the world taekwondo flag. Newcomer Ahmad Rafiq Aladaji (from Syria, based in Turkey) will represent the global taekwondo refugee team, Paralympic darling Zakia Khudadadi (from Afghanistan, based in France) had to step down at the last minute due to a wound.

Due to travel restrictions linked to COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, at least four teams had to withdraw before traveling – Afghanistan, Ghana, Japan and Morocco.


Proof of the growing global appeal of Para Taekwondo, several countries, in addition to host Turkey, are coming with their strong team.

Russian Taekwondo Union (30), Brazil (17), India (11), Kazakhstan (10), Serbia (10), Kenya (9), Niger (9), Georgia (6), Poland (3), Romania ( 1), and the World Taekwondo Refugee Team (1) all set records for the number of registered athletes.

Since Tokyo 2020, Para Taekwondo has updated its ranking and weight categories.

Most athletes previously classified in K43 (damage to both arms below the elbow) and K42 (damage to one arm above the elbow) will join their rivals in K44 (damage to an arm below the elbow) in a single new classification ” super ”K44.

Any athlete who has not been ranked since the end of Tokyo 2020 must undergo a classification before entering the 2021 World Championships.

The three weight categories by sex seen at Tokyo 2020 have been replaced by five weight categories by sex which will appear in Paris 2024.

The new divisions are: Women: -47 kg, -52 kg, -57 kg, -65 kg, +65 kg; Men: -58 kg, -63 kg, -70 kg, -80 kg, +80 kg

The tournament will also feature a new unique five-minute round format. Tokyo 2020 saw athletes compete in the old two-minute three-round format.


Just three years away from Paris 2024, the 2021 World Championships have attracted the vast majority of current and former world champions, Paralympians and top fighters.

The biggest names missing from Istanbul 2021 are quadruple world and Paralympic champion Lisa Gjessing (DEN), Paralympic champion Angelica Espinoza (PER), reigning world champions Matt Bush (GBR) and Yujie Li (CHN) , Paralympic bronze medalist Juan Samorano (ARG) and Paralympian Andres Molina (CRC).

This leaves many of the sport’s biggest stars ready to fight for big ranking points to reach the top of the rankings in the new weight divisions. *

We can expect to see the highly anticipated rematch of the -75kg Paralympic Final between reigning World and Paralympic Champion Juan Diego Garcia Lopez (MEX) and quadruple World Champion Mehdi Pourrahnama (IRI).

Newcomer Beth Munro (GBR) will also look to continue her scintillating run in 2021. In her second international competition only, Munro beat some of the sport’s biggest stars en route to a surprise silver medal at Tokyo 2020.

Palesha Goverdhan poses following her success at the 2021 Asian Para-Youth Games held in Bahrain.

The tiny Himalayan nation of Nepal will be eager to win their first ever World Championships medal. Palesha Goverdhan nearly won the country’s first medal – at the Olympics or Paralympics – at Tokyo 2020, before falling to defending world champion Li (CHN) with a single kick in the medal match of bronze. She won Nepal’s first-ever gold at the Asian Youth Paralympic Games last week, showing she can be dangerous in Istanbul.

How will the new weight categories change? While many rivalries will remain, others will be born in Istanbul. Watch out for Paralympic bronze medalist Jeong-Hun Joo (KOR) and Magomedzagir Isaldibirov (RTF) in the -80 kg division.

Powerhouse Brazil will aim to reign supreme. After winning the Paralympic medal table with a full set of medals – Nathan César Sodario Torquato (gold), Debora Menezes (silver) and Silvana Fernandes (bronze) – the Samba nation sends its greatest team of all time to the 2021 World Championships. Menezes won the country’s first world championship in 2019. It would be interesting to see how many medals they would win.

The 2019 Antalya World Championships have been the exit party for many of the sport’s biggest stars, including Garcia Lopez, Menezes and Li. This tournament provides a perfect platform for the emergence of new global sensations.

For the live action, tune in at 9:00 am Istanbul local time (7:00 am CET) for all the action.

Court 1 action here

Legal action 2 here

Court 3 action here

Court 4 action here

* NOTE: Athletes will transfer their already accumulated Ranking Points to the new divisions, i.e. they will not start from scratch.

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