In a recent interview with The Korea Times, Choue vowed to add pace and purpose to the efforts to reform the sport, including further changes in competition rules and scoring systems and employing better technology to eliminate judging controversies.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently named Taekwondo as one of the 25 core Olympic sports that will maintain their place throughout the 2020 Olympic Games. Choue stressed that the status of any Olympic sport is uncertain beyond that disputing reports by some local media outlets that interpreted the decision as the IOC locking up Taekwondo permanently, and Taekwondo will have to improve itself continuously.
“The IOC’s decision rewards taekwondo’s persistent efforts to rebuild itself and be seen as a genuine Olympic sport with global acceptance,” he said.
“The most critical test for us was the 2012 London Olympics, as the quality of competition there was to determine whether the sport remains on the Olympic platform. Sweeping aside concerns, we were able to deliver our best Olympic performance yet.”
Judging controversies had marred Taekwondo in the Olympics since it became a medal competition in the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. However, the employment of an electronic scoring system — enabled by sensors embedded in the body pads, socks and helmets of the fighters — and instant video replay eliminated the problems in the London Games.
The advantage of this approach is that the sport can continue to improve along with the technology it employs. Choue promises to employ more advance sensors to further improve the accuracy in scoring and find a way to strengthen the role of video replay without hurting the flow of a match.
“A string of intensive examinations took place on the heels of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We thought it would be a last chance to breathe life back into the flagging reputation of Taekwondo,” Choue said.
“The electronic protector and scoring system (PSS) was first tested at the 2009 WTF World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships in Baku. After making more improvements to the system, it was still a risk to use it at the Olympics. But we decided to take the chance,” he continued.
“We received positive feedback from IOC members and fans. Besides, as eight nations won the taekwondo gold medals, the newly-adopted system banished the controversy that had surrounded the sport. Obviously, Taekwondo has changed into a fairer and more transparent form.”
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In London, Korean athletes didn’t dominate the medal standings as much as in previous games. Choue takes this as the ultimate compliment, calling it evidence that Taekwondo is becoming truly global.
Rohullah Nikpah of Afghanistan became a national hero after he won a bronze in London, the country’s only medal there while Anthony Obame of Gabon won the country’s first Olympic medal by claiming silver in the men’s 80 kilogram-plus division.
Following complaints that replays reduce tension during a bout, the WTF has been working on shortening the time they take and improving the PSS, Choue said, with results expected this year.
“In an effort to make the sport more global, we decided to create a WTF Grand Prix series last year and we are currently deciding the location between United Arab Emirates’ Dubai and London,” Choue said. “At the event to be held four times a year, athletes will be allowed to compete against one another. To encourage participation, we are considering giving an Olympic berth to the winners.”
“Since its establishment in 2008, the WTF World Taekwondo Peace Corps has been active in giving hope to talented youngsters all over the world, mainly in Africa”, Choue said.
“The WTF has sent 829 volunteers to 83 countries on 10 occasions around the world. We are planning on sending more to areas where such education can plant seeds of hope for many adolescents,” Choue said.
By Jung Min-ho (Korea Times)