A Hilton man hopes his ambition of seeing karate become an Olympic sport will be fulfilled.
Mike Billman, chairman of the European Karate Federation Technical Commission, believes there is huge support for it to be included in the 2020 Games which take place in Japan – the country of its origin. Karate is one of eight sports to be shortlisted as possible additions to the Olympics.
Billman, who is in his late 60s and whose association with the martial art stretches back 46 years, recently attended the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Karate was the only non-Olympic sport to feature and Billman rubbed shoulders with some of the most influential figures in the world of sport, including Thomas Bach (president of the International Olympic Committee), Sir Craig Reedie (IOC vice-president and president of the World Anti-Doping Agency) and Bill Sweeney (CEO of the British Olympic Association).
Billman said: “I have been involved in trying to get karate into the Olympics for many years.
“It is great to be shortlisted, but the next big step is in September when we find out whether or not karate is being officially recommended to the IOC.
“Bearing in mind the fact karate has been shortlisted before, but fallen at the last hurdle, we cannot get too excited. We must just keep on campaigning and promoting karate at the highest level.
“The way in which karate was received in Baku is extremely encouraging. We seem to have got a bit nearer with each passing Olympics and this time it feels more positive than ever.
“Thomas Bach has stated he would like to see karate in the Games and with them being held in Japan in 2020. There is a big push to be included.”
Baseball/softball, bowling, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing and Wushu (a Chinese martial art) also made the shortlist to be considered for Olympic status.
The final decision on whether or not they are included will not be made until August 2016.