WTF President Looks Forward to “Festival of Fight” Ahead of Olympic Taekwondo Competitions in Rio



RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (August 16, 2016) - World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) President Chungwon Choue, speaking at a press conference on the eve of the Olympic taekwondo competitions, today predicted a four-day “festival of fight” with the world’s very best taekwondo athletes ready to battle it out in Rio de Janeiro in what is expected to be one of the most colourful and vibrant Olympic taekwondo competitions ever hosted.


President Choue was joined at the press conference by WTF Secretary General Hoss Rafaty; WTF Rio 2016 Technical Delegate Philippe Bouedo; US male taekwondo athlete, five-time Olympian and two-time Olympic gold medallist, Steven Lopez; Brazilian female taekwondo athlete Julia Vasconcelos; and Brazilian Taekwondo Federation President Carlos Luiz Pinto Fernandes.


The WTF President commented that a total of 128 athletes from a record-equalling 63 nations from five continents will be competing for gold in Rio. Among them are athletes who will be representing seven countries which have never competed in Olympic taekwondo before –Aruba, Belarus, Cape Verde, DR. Congo, Moldova, Mongolia and Tonga – demonstrating the continued growth and expansion of the sport around the world. With 206 member associations and more than 70 million practitioners worldwide, taekwondo is a truly universal sport and the world is certain to be watching to see who will claim gold in Rio.


The thousands of fans in the stadium and the millions watching at home will be treated to a transformed field of play in Rio with the WTF having introduced a number of initiatives to harness the vibrancy and energy of the Rio carnival spirit. For the first time, athletes from around 20 countries will wear coloured trousers which represent their home nations, completely transforming the look of the competition, and all athletes will wear bibs with information about their weight division and seeding position to ensure that athletes are easily identifiable. Athletes will also be able to choose the music that plays as they walk out onto the field of play and the taekwondo demonstration team will keep the audience entertained with performances in between matches. A match-tree will be displayed on a jumbo screen to keep the audience informed and a lightweight tracking camera will be used for the first time to keep viewers closer to the action than ever before.


To encourage more spectacular and dynamic techniques, the WTF has introduced an octagon mat for the first time at an Olympic Games and a turning kick to the body will now be rewarded with three points rather than two. Athletes will also wear electronic impact sensors in their protective head guards to ensure optimum transparency and fairness and the competitions will be officiated by 30 referees – 15 male and 15 female.


Speaking at the press conference, WTF Preisdent Choue said:


“After a four year wait we are delighted to be back at an Olympic Games and cannot wait to kick-start our Olympic taekwondo competition tomorrow. The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of our sport and our athletes have been working very hard over the last four years to earn the right to compete here this week.


“Taekwondo is an ancient sport but it is one that is always evolving and progressing as we look to strike a balance between honouring our tradition and embracing the future. In Rio we will see that first-hand with a number of technological advancements being introduced for the first time at an Olympic Games as we try to make matches more fair and transparent but also more athlete-focused and engaging for fans. Every Olympic Games is different and in Rio we want to embrace the vibrancy and joy of the carnival and produce a festival of fight for everyone to enjoy.”