The Opening Ceremony was held on the third day of competition in Madrid ©ITG

World Karate Federation (WKF) President Antonio Espinós claimed the World Championships here is an "historic event" for the sport as he officially welcomed athletes during an Opening Ceremony today.

Espinós highlighted how this year's Karate World Championships, which began on Tuesday (November 6) and conclude on Sunday (November 11), are the first to be held during the qualification period for the Olympic Games.

Karate was added to the Tokyo 2020 programme by the International Olympic Committee in 2015 and will make its debut at the Games in the Japanese capital.

Espinós, widely credited for spearheading karate's campaign for inclusion, told the athletes in attendance at the ceremony that they will "not forget" competing here given the competition's added significance.

"These Championships are historical," the Spaniard said.

A lively demonstration of kata took place during the ceremony ©ITG
A lively demonstration of kata took place during the ceremony ©ITG

"We have been beating all the participation records in number of athletes and number of countries and it is great to have this historic Championships.

"Never before have our World Championships been in the Olympic qualification period and this is great for us.

"I am sure many of you will not forget your participation in this event.

"After many years have passed, you will remember and you will tell the people that is coming after you that you were in Madrid in 2018."

An athletes' parade was held during the ceremony, although Kosovo - forced to participate under the WKF flag after the Spanish Government refused them permission to compete baring their own national symbol - did not take part.

It was followed by a segment entitled "karate soul", which included a display of kata from a group of six performers.