World Karate Fed­er­a­tion ac­cepts Sikh play­ers with small tur­ban, WSO ad­vo­cacy wins

World Karate Fed­er­a­tion ac­cepts Sikh play­ers with small tur­ban, WSO ad­vo­cacy wins

2019 as the year of Guru Nanak brings cheer to the Sikh world on many fronts. From 1 Jan­u­ary 2019, The World Karate Fed­er­a­tion has ac­cepted the Sikh re­quest for ac­com­mo­da­tion of Sikh head­gear -the small tur­ban, called Patka or Das­tar for male com­peti­tors dur­ing com­pe­ti­tions.

The WKF has now an­nounced that it has ap­proved a new ver­sion of its rules which al­lows all ath­letes to wear plain black head cov­er­ings dur­ing com­pe­ti­tion for re­li­gious rea­sons. The new ver­sion of the WKF rules now read, “Com­peti­tors may use WKF ap­proved re­li­giously man­dated head-wear: A black plain fab­ric head scarf cov­er­ing the hair, but not the throat area.”

Since 2014, the World Sikh Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Canada has been work­ing with Karate Canada to ad­vo­cate for the rule change at the in­ter­na­tional level.

The WSO pol­icy of ad­vo­cacy not ag­i­ta­tion is pay­ing rich div­i­dends, not only in mul­ti­cul­tural and over­whelm­ingly tol­er­ant and in­clu­sive Canada but also across the world spelling an ex­am­ple for other Sikh or­gan­i­sa­tions to fol­low, es­pe­cially in home­land Pun­jab and the In­dian Sikh Di­as­pora.

It is note­wor­thy that in 2016, Jaikaran Singh Sanghera, a Sikh mem­ber of Karate British Co­lum­bia, was in Croa­tia to com­pete at a WKF Youth Cup tour­na­ment but was told that he could not com­pete with his patka or small tur­ban. Based on a di­rect ap­peal made by Karate Canada Pres­i­dent, Craig Vokey, and Team Canada coaches to WKF of­fi­cials at the tour­na­ment, Jai was granted an ex­emp­tion that al­lowed him to com­pete at that event.

WSO cited the sig­nif­i­cance and im­por­tance of the tur­ban in the Sikh faith as well as ac­com­mo­da­tion poli­cies in in­ter­na­tional fed­er­a­tions for foot­ball (FIFA) and bas­ket­ball (FIBA) to the WKF which were sup­ported Kirsty Dun­can, Min­is­ter of Sci­ence and Sport, Sport Canada, the Cana­dian Olympic Com­mit­tee Pres­i­dent Tri­cia Smith, Karate British Co­lum­bia, and in­di­vid­ual mem­bers of the Karate Canada.

Jaikaran Singh Sanghera was ec­sta­tic about the de­vel­op­ment and told me­dia that, “I am very pleased that we were able to cham­pion the rule change, un­der the lead­er­ship of Karate Canada, WSO and the gov­ern­ment.”

I am thank­ful to the WKF for mak­ing the sport of karate more in­clu­sive and for al­low­ing ath­letes like me to com­pete with dig­nity.”

WSO Pres­i­dent Mukb­hir Singh wel­comed the de­ci­sion of the World Karate Fed­er­a­tion which now al­lows both male and fe­male com­peti­tors to wear re­li­gious head-cov­er­ings. This is a wel­come change for the in­creas­ing num­ber of Karate play­ers world­wide.”

Ot­tawa, 3 De­cem­ber 2018, WSN News Desk

The Style Souk