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Taekwondo Faces Olympic Eviction

by on August 18, 2008

2008 Olympics Taekwondo Logo

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).


From → judging, karate, news

  1. hershees permalink

    Karate has definately been excluded from the 2012 Olympics after the IOC voted on the inclusion of two new sports to replace two that were recently removed. The fact that Karate and Squash were voted for possible inclusion above the other 3 sports up for the spots goes to show that there may still be hope, as they beat out rugby for example. Maybe if the sport makes a marked improvement in the next 4 years under the WKF there will be a spot for it in the 2016 Olympics in London, or even the Winter Olympics?

  2. Interesting, but many other major Olympic sports also have a high degree of subjectivity using judges. For example, diving, gymnastics, and figure skating. Each of these is fundamentally flawed since they require qualitative measurement by humans. Sports like hockey, track and field, and weight lifting are quantitative, i.e. you either have a higher score or not. So, the question remains how can we make karate quantitative? I favor something like fencing, where it’s just like karate, but you’re fighting with special sensors in the body and hand pads that track impact force and speed against your opponent. Such systems already exist, they just need to be refined to be compatible with Karate.

  3. philipobrien permalink

    sensors would be fine, but then there are issues about how hard is hard enough for the sensor to pick up on it? some schools focus on a quick in-out blow, with minimal force and in fact, minimal contact (only indicating that contact “could” have been made).

    But I agree, there needs to be a way to quantize karate judging.

  4. Arnold lobo permalink

    Karate should be in with fulcontact fight & katas

  5. Steve permalink

    Look folks…..Karate will never bo an Olympic sport. The simple truth is there is no governing body because of the diversity of style in Karate and ego. Period. Even if Japan tried to create a WTF like organization it would not work because the majority of Karate participation world wide is centrailized in Europe and the USA. No governing body means no lobbying power means no Olympics. Personal opinion and conjecture is that because of the point nature of karate it would be MORE boring to watch than
    Steven Lopez. The move to electronic hogus may eliminate the issues with officals…sorry Karate guys.

  6. Vaughn X permalink

    Tae Kwon Do is way ahead of KARATE in terms of organization & safety is concern. WTF is supported, sanctioned & recognized by the SOUTH KOREAN government while KARATE, there is one group that claims in their website that they are the only group that’s being recognized by the JAPANESE government to propagate & spread KARATE to the world & yet they’re not even interested in getting the OLYMPIC status. This so called group claims to be the largest & yet they don’t have a dojo in SOUTH KOREA but TKD has a dojang in JAPAN, ironic? organizaton .. there’s KUKKIWON & WTF, it took political power to unify the different KWANS. SAFETY, they have body armors, arm guards, shin guards, mouth guards, groin protectors & head gears. KARATE, it was only lately that they try using hand mitts, arm guards,mouth guards, shin guards & chest protectors. groin protectors are optional. we all know accidents happen in all sports & what these groups do itheir best to minimize these accidents or risk of injuries. there was one time that they were planning of using a head gear with a face mask & yet they stopped it. most karate matches ends up with a busted lip or black eyes, what will they do to minimize such incidents, deduct a point? disqualify the player? what about the damage done on the other player? unless all karate groups learns to compromise, unify & put great emphasis on safety then chances of entering the olympics is a bit dull. this is just my opinion, KENDO has more chance of entering the OLYMPICS than KARATE, just take a look at their group & their gears being used for protection in their games.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. What can We Learn from Taekwondo at the Olympics? « Karate Daily
  2. Karate in the Olympics Games « Karate Daily

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