The Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation President Slavi Binev and WT President Chungwon Choue ©WT

The World Taekwondo (WT) Grand Prix Sofia that starts tomorrow will serve as a test event for next year's World Junior Championships in the Bulgarian capital.

Looking ahead to the first staging of a Grand Prix event in the country, the Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation President Slavi Binev spoke about the support there was for the groundbreaking initiative, with it doubling as a test event for the 2020 World Junior Championships. 

"We have government support, we have the support of the whole country," he said.

"This is the best investment ever in the future of our country and our athletes - we will try to build a model for our youngsters to follow."

The Bulgarian Taekwondo Federation, which celebrates its 30-year anniversary in 2020, is putting on the debut Grand Prix over three days in the Exhibition Forum Event Center at the landmark Hotel Marinela.

Binov was speaking alongside World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue, who had earlier met Bulgarian Minster of Youth and Sports Minister Krasen Kralev.

Choue took the opportunity to speak about some of the innovations WT will be making for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

"We will use a 4D, 360-degree camera system - hundreds of cameras will be sited in the taekwondo venue," Choue said.

"We have tested this several times at the Grand Slam."

The line-up at the press conference ahead of Bulgaria's first hosting of a World Taekwondo Grand Prix, starting in Sofia tomorrow ©WT
The line-up at the press conference ahead of Bulgaria's first hosting of a World Taekwondo Grand Prix, starting in Sofia tomorrow ©WT

The 4D camera rig enables Matrix-style effects, upgrading taekwondo's visual spectacle.

It will also help in the judging of decisions for instant video replay judges.

"There will be no dead angles for referees," Choue said.

The second change is competition uniforms.

Players and pundits have complained that the toned physiques of taekwondo athletes are camouflaged by baggy competition uniforms and protective gear.

In response, WT has been experimenting with more stylish armour and clothing.

The new competition uniforms boast new textiles and are slim fitting, Choue said, and will be tested at the next major WT event in Moscow in December.

"At the Moscow Grand Prix Final, all athletes will wear the new uniforms," he said.

A final decision on the adoption of the new competition uniforms for Tokyo 2020 will be made by the World Taekwondo Council in Moscow in December, Choue added.

Bulgarian players have not yet won a medal in a Grand Prix event, but hope to make the most of home town advantage.

"I am very happy that one of the best and most difficult tournaments is here in my homeland," Bulgarian athlete Vladimir Dalakliev said.

"In the past we have had difficulties travelling abroad, but this is our homeland and this is where we will do our best and achieve great results."

Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist Shuyin Zheng of China was asked to comment on her fierce rivalry with Britain's Bianca Walkden.

"Bianca is a great opponent and a rival for me," she said.

"She makes me practice more during training time."

Walkden’s best friend and roommate, double Olympic champion Jade Jones, was asked about her ambition of winning a third gold in Tokyo – which would be a historic feat no other taekwondo fighter has yet achieved.

"It is amazing to have a chance to do something nobody has done before, that is why I get up in the morning, that is why I am here and that is why I am training," she said.

"I believe it can be me."