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By Peter Rutherford
LONDON, July 25 While technology's place in
soccer continues to divide the game's powerbrokers, the
president of the World Taekwondo Federation believes a new
high-tech scoring system will cement his sport's place on the
After debuting as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Games in
Seoul, taekwondo became a full medal sport 12 years later in
Sydney. The Korean martial art's spectacular spinning, jumping,
flying kicks could captivate the crowd, but it suffered from
inconsistent judging and a complex scoring system.
Despite its global popularity, with an estimated 70 million
practitioners worldwide, the knives were out for taekwondo and
its place on the Olympic Programme seemed to be in jeopardy.
However, WTF President Choue Chung-won told Reuters in an
interview on Wednesday the sport had undergone a major overhaul
ahead of the London Games aimed at securing its Olympic place.
The introduction of the Protector and Scoring System (PSS),
which will automatically measure the strength of a kick to the
body and score it, as well as an instant video replay system
would ensure the fairest and most transparent taekwondo
"I think taekwondo will really benefit from the technology
because it will ensure the medals go to the best athletes, not
to someone else because of a mistake from a referee or a judge,"
"This is a wonderful opportunity for us to remain in the
Olympics. Not many sports have this kind of technology ... it
will help eliminate human error in taekwondo.
"We will have six video cameras watching the games and if
there are any human errors by the judges or referees we will
correct them immediately."
The system, which had been trialed and tested in competition
over the last two years, was demonstrated to reporters on
Wednesday by members of Britain's junior taekwondo team on the
rooftop of a carpark near the Olympic Stadium.
Whirling, lashing kicks landed, points registered on the
computer, President Choue smiled.
"Things must change with the times, and sport is no
different, it must follow the new generation," he said.
"This is what the Olympics is all about - transparency and
Choue, who received his taekwondo black belt in the Korean
army in the 1960's, said any of the 63 countries taking part in
the taekwondo competition could win a medal and he would not be
upset even if his native South Korea failed to win a gold.
"I'm president of the WTF, so that means I don't have any
nationality," he added. "I'm happy that taekwondo started in
Korea but now its a truly global sport.
"Taekwondo is Korea's gift to the world."
(Editing by Justin Palmer)