|With the introductions of a 4D camera system and possibly a new uniform, taekwondo is expected to become more exciting at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Courtesy of World Taekwondo|
|World Taekwondo President Choue Chung-won speaks during a recent interview at his office in Seoul. Courtesy of World Taekwondo|
Governing body to adopt 4D camera system ― and possibly new uniform
By Jung Min-ho
Ever since it became an official Olympic medal sport at the 2000 Sydney Games, taekwondo has evolved steadily with new ideas and technologies.
Notably, at the 2012 London Olympics, World Taekwondo (WT), a global governing body for the sport, adopted an electronic scoring system and an instant replay policy to make scoring fairer. At the 2016 Rio Games, it introduced a smaller, octagonal mat to make the sport more dynamic.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (July 24-August 9), viewers around the world will see the sport's biggest transformation yet. One of the key changes is the adoption of a 4D camera rig that can provide 360-degree "Matrix-style" scans of the athletes' moves for video replays.
"The system will excite many people, just like it excited me two years ago when we tested it for the first time," WT President Choue Chung-won said during a recent interview at his office in Seoul. "I'm sure of its success at Tokyo." "Not only that, it will also make WT's scoring system even fairer by eliminating blind spots."
The camera system was tested at the 2018 WT Grand Slam Champions Series at Wuxi, China, and the Championships in Manchester, the United Kingdom, in May. Reactions were extremely positive, Choue said.
WT is still working to enhance the system, which may be tested again at its events before the Olympics.
WT is also developing a new uniform, which is expected to be more comfortable and colorful.
However, as some people have voiced concerns that a non-white uniform could undermine the traditional color of taekwondo, WT will collect more opinions from officials, athletes and fans before deciding whether to proceed with the plan.
"Just to be clear, we are not seeking to change the traditional white taekwondo uniform," Choue said. "Our plan is about replacing the uniform for fight competition. There are materials that can be utilized for making it better for both athletes and fans. I think it needs to be more convenient for athletes and more attractive for fans. Arm and shin guards, for example, can be attached to the new uniform."
With more advanced technology and a better uniform, Choue hopes the Tokyo Games will be another turning point for the sport.
Promoting peace through taekwondo
In April, taekwondo athletes from the two Koreas staged a joint performance at the Olympic Museum and the United Nations office in Switzerland to promote peace and unity.
The event came five months after WT, under the leadership of South Korean Choue, and the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), led by North Korean Ri Yong-son, signed a historic agreement to renew their relationship and narrow differences in governing the sport.
Choue said he will continue to seek ways to work with the ITF.
"It is certainly possible that the two organizations will stage a joint performance at Tokyo or before the Games," Choue said. "I'm definitely open to more cooperation with Ri."