zThis is encouraging news for the sport, being released ahead of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Programme Commission meetings to be held later this month where sports that may be included in the 2020 Olympic Games will be discussed. A full medal sport since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Taekwondo has been rumoured to be among the sports at risk of being dropped off the programme of the 2020 Games, in part due to a history of injuries.
In July, Scientific American Magazine reported that at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Taekwondo had “…the highest rate of dislocations or ruptures to tendons and ligaments”, and fractures were also prevalent. But the new report indicated that the injury rate had dropped 18.4% to an “all-time low” of 0.31%. The WTF credits the improvement to a 2010 rule change that awards points for a light touch to the head.
Speaking about the report, WTF Secretary General Jean-Marie Ayer said “overall, it proves that taekwondo is a safe sport that is getting safer by the year.
“It is particularly pleasing to see that our rule changes have had the positive impact on athletes’ welfare that we were looking for; now that points can be scored with just a light touch to the head, accuracy and speed are more important than impact.
“We have all but eliminated knock-outs the phrase is not even in our competition vocabulary any more. Simultaneously, we have made taekwondo a faster, more exciting spectacle for fans and a safer, more accessible sport for athletes.”
Improvements to protective wear and advanced electronic scoring methods have also led to safer competitions.
There are seven bids vying to gain a spot on the 2020 Olympic programme – a baseball and softball joint effort along with Karate, roller sports, squash, sport climbing, wakeboard and wushu. But with the inclusion of Golf and Rugby Sevens at the Rio 2016 Olympics, the IOC will have reached its self-imposed maximum of 28 sports and would need to drop at least one sport in order to allow others to join.
It has been speculated that along with Taekwondo, Modern Pentathlon is at risk of exclusion.
The IOC will determine if any sports will be excluded or added to the 2020 programme at its session in Buenos Aires in September, 2013.
Source: Game Bids