Will Taekwondo remain an Olympic sport?
The future of Taekwondo as an Olympic core sport after 2016 will be decided this year
2013 won’t be just another year for Taekwondo. During this new year we’ve entered, our sport will face one of the most important processes it’s ever been through: the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) evaluation in order to decide which sports will remain as part of its Program after Rio 2016.
The Olympic governing body has decided to introduce a new regulation system as of 2020 that will cut the current number of core sports (26) to 25 and will add 3 floating sports to each Games’ Program. That means that one of the current core sports will lose its privileged position, a situation that none of them is willing to experience.
So the question now is: Will Taekwondo remain as a core sport after Rio 2016?
WTM doesn´t have the answer, but will expose the strengths and weaknesses of our sport in such a crucial process.
Chapter 1: Key dates and Taekwondo’s current background
All Taekwondo family members need to keep in mind the crucial dates of the IOC’s evaluation process and the players involved in it.
Everything is set to start between the 12th and 13th of February in Lausanne (Switzerland). There is where the Olympic Program Comission, led by Italy’s senior IOC member Franco Carraro, will present a report informing the Executive Board with the core sport they suggest to cut from the 26 current ones.
After this first meeting, the OPC will propose the list of eligible sports to add in 2020 to the Executive Board during the SportAccord Convention, which will be held in Saint Petersburg (Russia) between the 26th and the 31st of May.
Both proposals will have to be officially approved by simple majority at the 125th IOC Session, scheduled for the 7th of September in Buenos Aires (Argentina). The election will be made by the assembled active IOC members (excluding honorary and honor members), each possessing one vote.
Once we’ve clarified the calendar, we need to know the current background that Taekwondo is able to present to the IOC.
Being realistic, Taekwondo was not in a very good position after the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 performances. The first three appearances of Taekwondo as an official sport of the Olympic Games were not as good as expected by the WTF. The number of spectators attending the competition was low in all 3 events, as well as the media impact. Moreover, the universality of Taekwondo was seriously questioned as Asian nations were always on top of the medal count, accumulating 4 of the 8 gold medals in Sydney, 7 in Athens and 6 in Beijing. All this factors put our sport in a quite dangerous situation ahead of this year’s IOC selection process, and the 2012 Olympics seemed to be the key to decide Taekwondo’s Olympic future.
At this point, the WTF became aware of the difficulty of the situation and realized some things needed to be changed in order to ensure the future of Taekwondo as an Olympic sport, so they designed a plan to make London 2012 the best Taekwondo competition ever. It was the perfect chance to stand out and positively impress every member of the IOC.
And the plan did work. We don´t know if it will finally help Taekwondo avoiding the Olympic exclusion, but it definitely worked. Tickets were sold out during the 4 days of competition, the new competition rules applied by the WTF and the introduction of technology (Daedo Protector and Scoring System and Dartfish Instant Video Replay) made our sport a much more exciting, spectacular, safe and marketable entertainment, and lastly, these improvements converted scoring and refereeing in Taekwondo into something fairer in everybody’s eyes, without forgetting the extraordinary performance displayed by the WTF offcials.
All these advances caused the Taekwondo “boom” that happened in London last summer, which made the fans of our sport and people without previous knowledge of Taekwondo enjoy the competition together at the ExCel Center.
One can not omit two more factors that prove the evolution of our sport. The first one is the internationalization that the WTF has experienced in the recent years, reaching a top 204 Member National Associations. The second one is a reflect of this evolution: the change of trend on the top of the medal count, with Europe deposing Asia for the first time ever thanks to the brilliant performance of the Spanish team.
In summary, a complete overhaul to Taekwondo that makes us believe in a bright Olympic future for our sport. Let’s hope so!
*Next chapters to be published soon
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