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Taekwondo: “Phew…”

Posted July. 09, 2005 03:06,   


The electronic vote that started at 12:01 p.m. was conducted in such a hurry. It took only 45 minutes. After the vote, IOC President Jacques Rogge approached the podium in the Raffles Ballroom at the Raffles Plaza Hotel in Singapore on July 8.

According to a reliable foreign source, all of the existing 28 summer sports were about to remain in the program. But baseball, the fourth, and softball, the 20th, were dropped. Taekwondo, the 21st, was the next on the list. World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) President Choue Chung-won, Korean Olympic Committee President Kim Jung-kil and other members in the Korean delegation could not relax because they were thinking, “Taekwondo, too, might be placed on the ‘out’ list…” When President Rogge uttered the word “included,” all Korean delegates cheered. That simple word ensured the future of Taekwondo, Korea’s national sport, as an Olympic sport.

At the 117th IOC Session in Singapore, which sports would remain and which would not were decided by a vote. Taekwondo gained more than half of the ballot’s votes and will be part of the official program of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Taekwondo has been chosen as an official sport four times in a row.

President Choue Chung-won commented on the result, showing his resolve, “Taekwondo is like a gift given to the world by Korea. That’s why we should keep it in the Olympic program. I will complete the reforms on Taekwondo not to worry Koreans about its elimination issue after four years from now.”

On the other hand, baseball was taken in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games as an official sport, and softball was for the 1996 Atlanta Games. They are the first two sports to be excluded in 69 years since the expulsion of polo in 1936.

Each of the 28 summer sports had a separate vote, and the numbers of votes obtained were kept secret out of concerns that they might affect sponsorship and TV broadcasting contracts.

The IOC will convene a meeting for its executive commission in the evening to select two sports out of rugby, golf, karate, squash and roller sports. A candidate that receives more than two-thirds of the registered votes at the IOC General Assembly on July 9 will earn a ticket to the Olympic games. If the candidate again receives a majority vote, it will be adopted as an official sport in 2012.

Taekwondo remaining in the Olympic games could be due to the organized leadership of KOC President Kim Jung-kil after the power vacuum left behind former IOC Vice President Kim Un-yong. President Choue’s strong will to reform Taekwondo, as was shown for the last 13 months, also impressed the IOC, observers say.

Now the WTF has 179 member nations with 60million individuals learning Taekwondo all over the world. In terms of its support base, it is among the top 10 sports in the 28 summer Olympic sports. The expanded influence of Taekwondo played a role in the IOC’s decision.

As Taekwondo has remained in the Olympics for four successive times, President Choue is more likely to be elected an IOC member, just as International Judo Federation President and IOC member Park Yong-sung was, after the year 2009 when Choue will run for reelection.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com