Edmonton Taekwondo ref headed to Japan to see Olympic dream realized

An Edmonton man is about to achieve his Olympic refereeing dreams after decades of dedication.

Hong Kong-born Eric Wah, 67, was one of 30 across the globe selected to referee the Taekwondo competition at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Much of his life has been centred on the goal.

He earned his black belt in the Korean martial art first, in order to become a national referee. After that, he was able to ref on the international stage.

"From there, you just keep on climbing the ladder all the way to the top," Wah recalled during an interview Monday on CTV News Edmonton Morning Live.

In 2017, he sold Edmonton's The King and I restaurant to work part time at The Keg to dedicate more time to getting to Tokyo.

"Whenever I have to go to a championship, they give me time off and that's how it became possible for me to achieve my goal."

Wah leaves for Japan on Tuesday.

He'll need two negative COVID-19 tests in Edmonton, and will be tested every day in the bubble in Tokyo.

The 2020 Olympic competition, which was postponed because of the pandemic, will consist of 152 matches between 128 athletes vying for a men or women's title in four weight classes.

Wah and his colleagues will work 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. for the four days of competition.

He will be the most senior ref at the Games.

"Oldest, but more experienced, I would say," Wah laughed.

Canada is sending two Taekwondo athletes to Tokyo: Skylar Park and Yvette Yong.