Taekwondo embraces technology

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Electronic protectors will be used at the 2009 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 14–18 October 2009, for the first time in the history of the Championships.

When used in conjunction with the newly adopted instant video replay system, electronic protectors will ensure fairer and more transparent judging and refereeing. Under the leadership of World Taekwondo Federation president Chungwon Choue, the WTF has committed to further enhancing transparency at taekwondo competitions, as well as increasing the dynamism and excitement of the sport. WTF president Choue said: "We highly respect the Olympic spirit of fair play, and joined the IOC's efforts to ensure fairness in Olympic sport. The reforms we have carried out in line with the IOC's principles are a major step on the road to a more visible and fair scoring system which will raise the standards of our sport. We now have more hope and confidence that our sport is moving closer to the IOC ideal. "WTF secretary general Jin Suk Yang added: "The WTF has a responsibility to develop and improve the sport of taekwondo and these measures will help minimise human errors. However, we believe there is still room for improvement. "In 2005, an ad–hoc committee was established at the WTF to evaluate the electronic protectors. Since late 2008, the committee has been chaired by Ivan Dibos, an IOC member and WTF council member. Following a series of laboratory and field tests and evaluations, the LaJUST Electronic Body Protector (EBP) was recognised by the WTF in September 2006. So far, LaJUST is the only WTF–recognised electronic protector manufacturer. It was successfully used at the 2009 WTF World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships and the 1st WTF World Para–Taekwondo Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan on 10–14 June 2009. A survey was conducted among taekwondo athletes, coaches, referees and officials regarding their experiences with the Baku championships. Their positive evaluation led the committee to recommend that electronic protectors be adopted for the upcoming Championships in Copenhagen. WTF president Choue said that the future use of electronic protectors at major competitions is subject to further improvements, including correction of shortcomings noted by the ad–hoc committee. The WTF's policy is to work with any company whose electronic protectors meet the WTF criteria. "As we saw in Baku, the use of electronic protectors and an instant video replay system work in synergy to make taekwondo competitions fairer and more transparent and significantly reduce controversy about referee decisions, " he said. "I am confident that the most practical way to improve the equipment is to keep using them to have a framework for improvement through trial and error. "The decision provides further evidence of the creation of a new image for taekwondo as the sport looks forward to increasing its global profile in the build–up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Electronic protectors are designed to increase the efficiency of the points scoring system which had previously been subject to human error. They transmit scores to electronic scoreboards by registering the impact on the protective equipment worn on the athlete's trunk. In addition, an instant video replay system allows for the immediate correction of referee decisions in the case of disputes.

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