Athletes from 144 countries and a Refugee Team are set to compete at the World Taekwondo Championships in Baku ©Getty Images

The second World Taekwondo Championships in little more than six months are due to begin in Azerbaijan's capital Baku here tomorrow, with 13 refugee athletes and 23 neutrals from Russia or Belarus among those participating,

Guadalajara in Mexico staged the World Championships in November last year after it was delayed and then moved from Wuxi in China.

Unlike last year's World Championships, 14 athletes from Russia and nine from Belarus have been provisionally approved to compete subject to signing a declaration committing to fully respecting the conditions of participation.

However, Russia's male Olympic champions Maksim Khramtsov at under-80 kilograms and Vladislav Larin at over-80kg are not among them after having their applications to compete rejected for supporting the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine is not among the 144 countries set to compete because of the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes taken in April after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) lifted its outright ban, which World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue said today he was "extremely saddened" by.

A Refugee Team of 13 athletes is set to participate at the Crystal Hall in Baku, including Yehya Al Ghotani in the men's under-63 kilograms as the first to compete at a World Championships from the Azraq Camp in Jordan where there is a Taekwondo Academy as part of the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation's project.

Competition at the World Taekwondo Championships is due to be held at the Crystal Hall in Baku ©Getty Images
Competition at the World Taekwondo Championships is due to be held at the Crystal Hall in Baku ©Getty Images

The Crystal Hall hosted taekwondo events at the Baku 2015 European Games.

Competition is due to begin tomorrow in the men's under-68kg, featuring Olympic champion Ulugbek Rashitov of Uzbekistan and runner-up Bradly Sinden of Britain, and women's under-57kg, in which China's Luo Zongshi is the defending world champion.

Tuesday (May 30) and Wednesday (May 31) are both set to feature three weight categories - men's under-58kg and women's under-67kg and under-73kg on the first of those, and the men's under-80kg and under-87kg and women's under-49kg on the second.

Reigning world and Olympic champion Vito Dell'Aquila of Italy is set to be on show in the men's under-58kg, and the women's under-49kg is set to be highly competitive with top-ranked Adriana Cerezo Iglesias of Spain, Olympic champion Panipak Wongpattanakit of Thailand and world champion Daniela Souza of Mexico.

Two weight categories per day are set to return for the remaining four days of the competition - men's under-63kg and women's over-73kg on Thursday (June 1), men's under-54kg and women's under-46kg on Friday (June 2), men's under-74kg and women's under-62kg on Saturday (June 3) and men's over-87kg and women's under-53kg on Sunday (June 4).

Britain's Bianca Cook is seeking her fourth world title at women's over-73kg having missed Guadalajara 2022 because of injury.

Britain's Bianca Cook is seeking a fourth world title in Baku ©Getty Images
Britain's Bianca Cook is seeking a fourth world title in Baku ©Getty Images

Two-time world champions Rafael Alba of Cuba in the men's over-87kg and Mehdi Khodabakhshi in the men's under-87kg are also competing.

Khodabakhshi's first World Championships gold came representing Iran at under-80kg in Chelyabinsk in 2015, but he triumphed at the higher weight category for Serbia last year.

Preliminaries are set to be held on the morning until early afternoon of each day in Baku, followed by the round of 16 and quarter-finals in the afternoon and then the semi-finals and finals in an evening session.

IOC President Thomas Bach is expected to attend one of the evening sessions.

Olympic ranking points for Paris 2024 are on offer at the World Championships.