Teams from 60 countries are arriving in Bangkok this week for the IFMA Youth championships confirmed by the world governing body IFMA.
The championships start tomorrow with the young athletes and their support arriving in the Thai capital this week. Up to 1,000 people are expected altogether. Many countries including Canada, Belgium and Australia arrived early to take advantage of the training opportunities in the city, Thailand being the home of Muaythai.
Speaking at the official launch for this year’s games Dr Kittipong Potimu, director general with the Thai Department of Physical Education said the number of young athletes travelling is a great sign of how Muaythai has taken root overseas.
Dr Kittipong said the growth of Muaythai from its traditional home in Thailand to so many countries overseas is a great source of pride and honour for Thai people. The senior government official said the young people are at the heart of any sport, and Muaythai is no different, adding that the future of the sport will be seen at this tournament.
The Thai government has been instrumental in bringing the championships to Bangkok this year, their support making the logistics of such a huge event possible.They are following in the footsteps of other youth events in St Petersburg, Istanbul and Tashkent.
Deputy Director Chanvit Phalajivin spoke on the importance of bringing tradition to this new generation of athletes.
Dr Sakchye Tapsuwan, president of IFMA also spoke at the event. He said that as the Royal Thai government now recognizes IFMA as the sole body to take Muaythai along the road towards Olympic recognition. And he added this great turn-out at the 2016 youth games gives a boost to that decision, marking the growth of Muaythai internationally.
Mr Stephan Fox, AIMS president, vice president of SportAccord and general secretary of IFMA said this sporting event carries on the proud Olympic spirit shown in Brazil earlier this month. He welcomed the young boxers to Thailand, saying their participation shows the real meaning of the phrase Muaythai Family.
The tournament opens with an exciting parade involving all of the athletes proudly showing their nations’ flags walking through the National Stadium. During the event they will also take part in cultural events including the Wai Khru and traditional Muay Boran.
All speakers emphasised that these cultural events are the beating heart of Muaythai, binding our sport to history and tradition.
A workshop was held on July 29th between representatives from IFMA, the Sports Authority of Thailand, the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, the Foreign Ministry and the Cultural Ministry all from the Royal Thai government to discuss Muaythai’s journey towards Olympic recognition.