RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Karate’s return home for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be electrifying for devotees of the ancient martial art and will benefit from a vibrant home audience, the head of the discipline’s federation said on Wednesday.
Five sports, including karate, will feature in the Japanese Games after the IOC voted them in on Wednesday in an attempt to attract a younger audience.
Karate, which originated on the Japanese island of Okinawa, became widely known overseas in the 1960s and its popularity was boosted worldwide by the 1970s martial arts movies of actors such as Bruce Lee.
“There couldn’t be a better place (than Tokyo) to begin our Olympic adventure,” World Karate Federation president Antonio Espinos told Reuters after the IOC vote.
“This will be a ‘fiesta’ for the entire karate world,” added Espinos, a 68-year old Spaniard who still practices karate, like 100 million other devotees worldwide.
Some 80 karate practitioners will compete in Tokyo. Host Japan, as well as Iran and European countries like France and Spain, are expected to make a splash.
Espinos fondly recalled that at the 2008 World Karate Championships in Japan, entire families and amateur karate practitioners flocked to the matches, making for a terrific atmosphere.
“That will be multiplied by 100 when the Olympic Games arrive in Tokyo,” said Espinos.
Editing by Rex Gowar