Fourteen Olympic or Paralympic gold medallists were honoured at World Taekwondo's 50th anniversary gala dinner ©World Taekwondo

World Taekwondo held a gala dinner to mark the 50th anniversary of its founding here tonight, honouring the best male and female athletes from each edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tomorrow is set to mark the governing body's golden jubilee, coinciding with Independence Day for World Taekwondo Championships host nation Azerbaijan which refers to its declaration of independence from the Russian Empire in 1918.

A joint celebration was held at the venue named after Heydar Aliyev, who led Azerbaijan from 1993 until shortly before his death in 2003, when he was succeeded by his son Ilham Aliyev who has remained as President ever since.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Ng Ser Miang of Singapore and Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sports Farid Gayibov were among the guests in attendance at the gala dinner.

Golden jubilee awards were handed to 14 athletes for their achievements on the highest stage since taekwondo made its Olympic debut at Sydney 2000.

The winners were decided by an Ad-hoc Nomination Committee, taking into account multiple-time Olympic champions, medallists from regions without a taekwondo Olympic gold medal, superior taekwondo skills and competitiveness and regional representation.

Men's under-58 kilograms champion Michail Mouroutsos and women's under-57kg gold medallist Jung Jae-eun of South Korea were the first to receive their awards for their achievements at Sydney 2000, followed by Athens 2004 winners Chu Mu-Yen of Chinese Taipei at men's under-58kg and Chen Zhong of China at women's over-67kg.

Beijing 2008 men's under-80kg and women's under-49kg gold medallists Hadi Saei of Iran and Wu Jingyu of China were winners, with the London 2012 honours going to men's under-68kg champion Servet Tazegül of Turkey and Hwang Kyung-seon of South Korea.

Gold medallists Cheick Sallah Cissé of Ivory Coast in the men's under-80kg and Jade Jones of Britain in the women's under-57kg took the awards for Rio 2016.

World Taekwondo's 17 founding member nations also received commemorative awards at the gala dinner ©World Taekwondo
World Taekwondo's 17 founding member nations also received commemorative awards at the gala dinner ©World Taekwondo

Reigning Olympic champions Ulugbek Rashitov of Uzbekistan at men's under-68kg and Milica Mandić of Serbia at women's over-67kg were honoured for their Tokyo 2020 achievements.

Para taekwondo made its Paralympic Games debut in the Japanese capital at the delayed event two years ago.

Brazil's men's under-61kg gold medallist Nathan Torquato and Denmark's women's under-58kg champion Lisa Gjessing completed the evening's athlete winners.

World Taekwondo's 17 founding National Associations were also presented with commemorative awards.

They included South Korea, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei from Asia.

Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States were represented on stage from Pan America, along with two European nations in Austria and Germany and two African countries in Ivory Coast and Uganda.

In his remarks, World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue praised Azerbaijan for its staging of previous events in the sport and the World Championships, and reflected on achievement over 50 years.

"We never stop developing and spreading our sports in the world," the South Korean official said.

"Fifty years ago, 1973, only 17 countries formed World Taekwondo, but now we are one of the biggest International Federations in the IOC family.

"From tomorrow, we have 213 plus one member nations.

"Why plus one?

"Because we are supporting refugees."

Thirteen athletes are set to form a Refugee Team at the World Taekwondo Championships, which are set to begin on Monday (May 29).