Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Press Releases

U.S. Department of State Announces Taekwondo Sports Exchange for Iraqi Youth

Youth Taekwondo Sports Visitor Program participants pose with their parents, coaches, and Embassy staff before departing for the United States. (Photo by: John Wilcock)

Youth Taekwondo Sports Visitor Program participants pose with their parents, coaches, and Embassy staff before departing for the United States. (Photo by: John Wilcock)

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) SportsUnited Division announces a sports exchange program that will bring 12 male and female athletes (10 youth and two coaches) to the United States June 5 - 15. During their time in Washington, D.C., the participants will learn about sports in the U.S. through participation in taekwondo activities. In addition to an intensive series of martial arts trainings, the participants will engage in strength and conditioning clinics as well as sessions on nutrition, conflict resolution, and disability sports. The program will also offer the young athletes opportunities to interact with their American peers during visits to area high schools and summer camps in the Washington, D.C. area.

Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” embracing the full range of diplomatic tools—in this case, taekwondo—to bring individuals together and foster greater understanding. This sports visitor program marks SportsUnited’s fourth exchange with Iraq, the most recent having been a female volleyball coach visitors program in December of 2011, and the second taekwondo sports visitor program.

SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ premier sports exchange program at the U.S. Department of State. Athletes and coaches from a range of sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth overseas in a dialogue on the importance of education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought nearly 1,000 athletes from over 60 countries to the U.S. to participate in sports visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 220 U.S. athletes to more than 50 countries to participate in sports envoy programs.