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The keys for Taekwondo's permanence in the Olympics

The keys for Taekwondo's permanence in the Olympics

In last Tuesday’s crucial meeting, the 14 members of the IOC Executive Board finally chose 5 sports as candidates to be dropped from the 2020 Olympic Programme: Wrestling, canoeing, modern pentathlon, hockey and Taekwondo. Wrestling was always the leader in a race no-one wanted to be out in front of, with Taekwondo being excluded from the final choice in second place, only after canoeing. That means our sport was the second one that received more supports among the final group of 5.
The development that Taekwondo has experienced in the recent years and that has lead to its permanence among the 2020 Olympic core sports group, is a result of the great effort done by many people within the Taekwondo family worldwide during that period of time.
The contributors to London 2012’s success
– The WTF Sports Division: Jeong-Kang Seo and Monika Lee were the ones in charge of directing and supervising all the the refereeing and competition-related matters together with the Technical Director of the WTF, Dai-Won Moon (Mexico), the Chairman of the WTF Referee Committee, Chakir Chelbat (Sweden), and the WTF Competition Director, Philippe Bouedo (France). All their work was always supervised by the Secretary General of the WTF, Jean-Arie Ayer, and the President of the WTF, Dr. Chungwon Choue.
– The introduction of technology in London 2012’s Taekwondo competition had a really positive effect on different aspects of our sport. Daedo Protector and Scoring System (PSS), designed by Dr. Jin Song, and Dartfish Instant Video Replay (IVR) helped creating clearer and more objective parameters for the athletes in competition. The fact that around 50% of IVR appeals overturned the referee decision shows how important technology was in London. These innovations were adopted to eliminate controversy, help minimizing human errors and try to create a new group of fans. All these objectives were met satisfactorily. The work of Swiss Timing, who procured and supervised the timing and scoring equipment for the Games with Pascal Rossier as the Head of Sports Operations and Thierry Cuenin as the Software Development & Project Manager, needs to be mentioned as well.
– London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games: The Taekwondo LOCOG, led by Michael McKenzie, conducted the proper actions to turn the Taekwondo competition into an absolute entertainment which, at the same time, was easy to understand for those spectators without previous knowledge of our sport.
Political influences
– IOC Members: Taekwondo has a cetain representation in the IOC Assembly. The Oceania Taekwondo Union President and WTF Vice-president, Mr Phil Coles, is one of Australia’s IOC members since 1982, Iván Dibós, WTF Vice-president, is Peru’s IOC member since the same year, and Aïcha Garad Ali, member of the WTF Council, is Djibouti’s only IOC only member. In addition, Dae-Sung Moon, a Korean congressman, is also one of the Asian country’s official members within the IOC. Moon recently stated that the IOC’s support for Taekwondo is “over 50%”.

Joel González (ESP) aims a kick at Óscar Muñoz (COL) during their combat at London 2012

– Korea’s growth as a sporting nation: Korea has left behind its Taekwondo-focused nation reputation and has become one of the most highlighted sporting nations worldwide, reaching the 5th place of the medal count at the London 2012 Olympics. Korea held as well  a successful edition of the Olympics in its capital, Seoul, back in 1988, and will also organize the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in the city of PyeongChang.
– Taekwondo Grandmasters’ approval: The Korean Taekwondo Grandmasters around the world have given their approval to the opening the world of our sport, even though they want to ensure that the essence of Taekwondo won’t be lost in the process. All of them consider Taekwondo as a gift from South Korea to the rest of the world.
Financial influences
Financial and political influences usually go hand in hand in these kind of processes, and the IOC’s core sports evaluation is not an exception. As it happened with the political aspects, Taekwondo had also a good position from the economic point of view, with certain aspects that might have favoured our sport’s permanence in the Olympic programme.
– The Samsung factor: The presence of the Korean company Samsung as the Worldwide Olympic Partner in the Wireless Communications Equipment category, and the fact that its President, Kun-Hee Lee, is one of Korea’s IOC members, are two things that the Olympic governing body could not omit.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. began its Olympic Games involvement as a local sponsor of the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games and extended its commitment to the Olympic Movement starting with the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games.
The Korean company is a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, digital media and digital convergence technologies with 2011 consolidated sales of US$143.1 billion. Employing approximately 206,000 people in 197 offices across 72 countries, the company is recognized for its industry-leading performance across a range of economic, environmental and social criteria. Samsung Electronics was named the world’s most sustainable technology company in the 2011 Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
Pau Aguilar
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