On Wednesday afternoon, about 20 members of the Rodney Hobson Karate Academy gathered in front of a projection screen TV hoping to witness history in the making.
Those who congregated at the Kelowna-based club weren’t disappointed as the International Olympic Committee officially announced, via live stream broadcast, that karate will be one of five new sports to be added to the Olympic Games roster in 2020 in Tokyo.
“For the sport of karate, this is huge,” said Rodney Hobson, the chief instructor at RHKA. “There are over 100 million people who train in karate around the world, so to finally be accepted means a lot.
“It’s the 50th anniversary of the first world championships in Tokyo, and it’s going back to Tokyo in 2020,” Hobson added. “It’s a significant, landmark moment for karate practitioners around the world.”
Karate had been short-listed into the Olympic program three times before, only to be denied each time.
In gaining approval for 2020, karate is one of only 13 new sports to be accepted since World War II.
As for the significance of the announcement on a local level, Hobson said dojos throughout Kelowna should feel the impact.
“Our members were ecstatic, it’s huge for ours and other clubs, and motivating for our youth to be able to aspire to something like the Olympic Games,” said Hobson, who runs one of six dojos in Kelowna. “Once you start telling kids they have a chance to be an Olympian, that’s motivating and opens their eyes to more opportunities. It’s another world-recognized event they can aspire to.”
The Rodney Hobson Karate Academy, located on Rutland Road, has close to 450 members.
Joining karate in 2020 as new additions will be baseball and softball, skateboarding, rock climbing and surfing.