World Tae Kwon Do Federation upholds hijab ban

MONTREAL — Muslim women who participate in competitions sanctioned by the World Tae Kwon Do Federation will not be allowed to wear a hijab.

The decision came Monday following a request for a ruling from the Canadian Tae Kwon Do Federation after two young Muslim girls were banned from a competition last month in Longueuil, Que.

The world federation indicated in a letter to the Canadian federation that it does not recognize any religion and would not make any accommodation for hijabs.

The world federation is the sport’s largest organization and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

The rule, which forbids wearing anything under protective head-gear, remains unchanged and will be in effect when the world championships begin on Friday in Beijing. The competition is the first in a series to determine which athletes will compete in the Olympic summer games in Beijing in 2008.

The world federation also indicates in the letter the IOC agrees with its decision.

The world federation is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, and oversees world and Olympic tae kwon do competitions.

The Canadian federation says it will accept the ruling while the Quebec Federation of Tae Kwon Do says the ruling shows it was justified in applying the rule last month in Longueuil.

Last week, the International Tae Kwon Do Federation, a separate entity which is not sanctioned by the IOC, announced it would temporarily accept competitors wearing a hijab until a committee could be formed to study the issue further.

Canadian Press, 14 May 2007