alt The first ever World Para-Taekwondo Championships are due to begin in Baku, Azerbaijan, tomorrow, an important milestone in the development of the sport.

The event, which will be held in conjunction with the World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships, which will begin on Thursday.

The two events, which are due to be held in the Baku Sports Hall, will mark the first World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)-promoted taekwondo events using electronic protectors.                                                                                           
An instant video replay system will be introduced for the first time at the WTF-promoted events, as the WTF’s new competition rules started applying from June 1, 2009.

It follows the controversy at last year's Olympics in Beijing when officials had to reverse the result of Stevenson's quater-final match against China's two-time champion Chen Zhong, who had never lost a bout in the Games, after the judges missed a clear hit to the head worth two points when she was 1-0 down.

The new rules also call for the reduction of the competition area from 10 meters by 10 meters to 8 meters by 8 meters, and the introduction of a new scoring system: one point for a valid attack to the trunk protector, two points for a valid turning kick to the trunk protector, and three points for a successful kick to the face. 

The inaugural WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships also draw a special interest from the global taekwondo family.

The WTF aims to include taekwondo in the official program of the Paralympic Games.

The Organising Committee expects that about 30 countries, including Britain, from five continents will participate in the 1st WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships.

The new WTF competition rules will apply to the one-day Para-Taekwondo Championships with two modifications.

No head kicks will be allowed and the International Paralympic Committee-designated four classifications will be combined into two classifications: amputation above elbow(s) and amputation below elbow(s).

The Olympic weight divisions will apply to the Para-Taekwondo Championships: -58kg, -68kg, -80kg and 80kg for male contestants and -49kg, -57kg, -67kg, and 67kg for female contestants.

Medals will be awarded to the top four athletes in the respective classifications and weight divisions.

Based on the point system, the top five teams of the men’s and women’s divisions will receive trophies.

The Good Fighting Spirit Award and the Active Participation Award will be given to selected teams.

The 2009 WTF World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships invited 23 male and 23 female teams from 28 countries, including Britain.

 The invitation criteria are the host country, the top five countries at the 2007 Beijing World Taekwondo Championships, the three countries recommended from Continental Taekwondo Unions, and wild cards.

Five weight divisions for male and female athletes will apply to the World Cup: -54kg, -63kg,-72kg, -82kg, 82kg for male contestants; -47kg, -54kg, -61kg, -68kg, 68kg for female contestants.

The new WTF Competition Rules will apply and the round-robin system will be adopted in the preliminary rounds on June 11, 12 and 13, while a single elimination tournament will be adopted in the quarterfinal, semifinal and finals on June 14.

Today the WTF Council meeting will be held at the Baku Conference Center.

High on the agenda is the selection of the host city of the 4th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships.

On Friday, the ad-hoc WTF Electronic Protector Committee, headed by Ivan Dibos, a WTF Council member and International Olympic Committee member from Peru, will hold a meeting to recommend to the WTF president on whether to use electronic protectors at the 2009 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in Copenhagen.