Taekwondo Faces Olympic Eviction
The CBC is reporting that Taekwondo is currently under review of being removed from the Olympic lineup after the 2012 Games in London. What does this mean for karate’s chances for addition to the Olympics?
Two reasons are cited as being the motivators for this move: audience attendance and television “tunage” have become lower for taekwondo and baseball than for any other sports at the Olympics. With few people watching, its hard to validate putting these things on the air. I wonder which sports were removed from the Olympics in 1859 when television ratings were low? This first reason kind of insinuates that the games are firstly a marketing vehicle and advertising opportunity. What? The Olympics are not entirely righteous and motivated by the need to bring countries together in a competitive-friendly environment to nurture good relations and advance global unity? Well of course not.
The second reason, and the one which is of most relevance to this article (sorry for that little tangent above) is the poor quality of judging. Poor judging comes in the way of inconsistency between judges, a confusing scoring system, and a claim that judges see things non-taekwondo practitioners don’t. At least the first two of these are well-founded. Just like the Canadian judo fiasco, taekwondo scoring can seem somewhat arbitrary at times, making room for inconsistency, and possibly subjetive judging. Subjectivity, especially when obvious, is known to lead to favourtism and bias. As a result, the scoring and judging becomes “sketchy”.
Why do I bring this up? At the end of the article, CBC states that while baseball, softball, and taekwondo are being considered for removal, “… golf, rugby and karate are all seeking Olympic inclusion.”
Last I heard, scoring and judging in karate were a long way from being ready for the Olympics. With the recent inception of the Caribbean Karate College by Master Woon A Tai and the years of work by the WKF, some significant progress has been made, but it seems that judging in karate is at about the same place as judging in taekwondo. Is this correct?
Consistency in karate judging has been studied empirically and shown to be poorer than expected from the IOC, coming in at around 80% accurate while professional sports such as hockey, basketball and baseball judges (referees, umpires, etc.) have been rated at about 95% accurate.
So when and how will karate make its appearance at the Olympics? If taekwondo is on its way out, then you can push the inclusion of karate back at least 8 years (2 Summer Games).