What happened at Korea Open 2012?
The 7th edition of the Korea Open, held in Gyeongju until last Tuesday October 30th, was clearly marked by controversy. According to its regulations, the WTF decided to categorize the Korean International Championships as one of the three G-2 events around the world, sharing this honour with the Spanish and US Opens. These G-2 events award each of their winners with no other than 20 points in the WTF rankings, so they are expected to stand out in all the criteria stated by the WTF to establish the grade of the contests. But was this really the case of the Korea Open 2012? Let´s check it out.
The first criteria stated by the WTF is the total number of participants and countries involved and the participating number of top-ranked athletes outside the host country. This year’s Korea Open had a total of 107 athletes from 18 different countries in competition in the Senior categories. Good enough? Well, taking a look at other recent G-2 events, we see that the British Open 2011 had a Senior draw made up of 361 fighters from 50 countries, the Spanish Open 2012 had 395 contestants from 45 countries and the US Open 2012 accumulated a total of 600 athletes representing 64 countries. So the less we can say is that there is a significant difference between Korea Open’s figures and the rest.
This difference is even more serious when looking at the draws in more detail. While In the Spanish Open the less numerous draw was made up of 17 athletes and in the US Open there were 16 contestants in each draw at least, the Korea Open 2012 had a total of 7 categories with only 4 athletes competing for the title. That means there were 28 fighters who knew they were going to grab a medal and get some points for the WTF ranking before having even played a single combat. A surreal situation for such an important event. How can a G-2 Championship have 28 guaranteed medalists before the start of the competition? The WTF must analyze this and make sure it doesn´t happen again.
KP&P’s PSS, unknown by foreigners
We also have to make reference to the fact that the athletes didn´t receive the confirmation of which PSS system was going to be used until 2 days before the start of the Open. That was specially serious for the foreigners, who hadn’t fought with KP&P’s PSS ever before. Isn´t a G-2 event supposed to be addressed to the International contestants? Using a PSS which had only been used in Korea and telling the athletes it will be the one used in the competition only two days in advance doesn´t seem the best way of treating them.
Another polemical aspect of the competition was the surface. The WTF has the 8 x 8 meters tatami as its one and only recognized surface, what it makes really hard to understand why all combats in the Korea Open were played in an octogonal tatami. Apparently, the WTF gave its permission to the KTA for the use of this surface, but when checking the competition rules and the rules on organization approved by the WTF, we haven´t been able to find where this request and subsequent approval can be authorized for an official WTF sanctioned competition.
White head protectors
But that´s not all. The WTF demands that all contestants attending an International competition sanctioned by its rules must use only WTF recognized head protectors (red and blue) to participate in the combats. So well, this requirement wasn´t respected in this year’s Korea Open as some of the fighters involved used the white head protector to compete. Is it acceptable to use an equipment that doesn´t have WTF’s recognition in a WTF competition? We are pretty sure that it shouldn’t.
Not a global event
The Korea Open was created in 2005 aiming to be a big event in the Taekwondo Worldwide scene. It was designed to be the third most relevant Taekwondo competition in the globe after the Summer Olympics and the World Taekwondo Championships organized by the WTF. After 7 years of experience, it is really difficult to see the Korean event in the positions they were looking to achieve, as they seem to care only about the Korean athletes, leaving the International ones as simple extras of the show. The WTF should take the responsibility of imposing order in this situation and reprimand KTA for its way of organizing for the good of Taekwondo community, and not only charge the Korean Association the fee for organizing a G-2 event and let them do what they want with it.
It is WTF’s duty to control the competitions sanctioned by its regulations. This is something that didn´t happen in Gyeongju, as its rules on organization state the following: “Outline, competition rules, detailed matters related to venue and competition equipment list must be submitted for approval of the WTF 6 months before the first day of the tournament, and WTF shall inform the applying member national association of the result of the examination of the request within one (1) month after receiving applications”. That means the Korea Open should have been on the WTF’s calendar at least 5 months in advance, which didn´t happen at all, being it visible only a bit earlier than a month before the kick off.
KTA’s lack of consideration with International athletes
To confirm all these arguments that prove KTA’s lack of attention to International athletes, WTM was able to talk to a high command within the Korean Association, who stated that “KP&P`s PSS would had been used at the Korea Open even without the recognition by the WTF”. We think the organizer of an event must keep in mind all the contestants attending the competition and not only the locals, so that´s why we would have found more appropriated to use Daedo’s PSS in the Championship as it has been tested in many International contests in the last two years, including the Summer Olympics and the Olympic qualifiers.
On the other hand, KP&P`s system had only been used in competitions within Korea. The KTA should have a more global vision of this Sport and be more supportive with International fighters. If they had done so, there wouldn’t be so many International coaches upset and disappointed for having prepared a competition with Daedo’s system and having been told KP&P was going to be the one used only two days before starting to compete in Gyeongju. In addition to that, according to taekwondo.chosun.com publication, the accommodation provided to the those athletes who were hosted under the exchange agreement of the KTA was not acceptable, as they were put up in facilities which had been in disuse for years before the start of the competition. These buildings’ rooms had a strong fungus smell. They were also given unacceptable quality food, even though most of the athletes came from developing countries. In the end, some of them decided to look for an accommodation outside the organization’s control.
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