June 12 - A special referee and coach training camp held by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) on the eve of London 2012 has been praised by China's International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president, Yu Zaiqing.
The five-day camp, which took place in the Chinese city of Suzhou, brought together coaches, referees and WTF Council members from across the sport's 202 member nation associations.
The primary goal of the camp was to focus the global taekwondo community on delivering a successful Olympic competition while it also provided a forum for delegates to share their hopes and aspirations for London 2012.
"I'm very pleased to see that the reform of the World Taekwondo Federation has achieved great success in the past years, especially in the aspect of fair adjudication," said Yu (pictured below), regarded as one of the most influential figures in the Olympic Movement.
"Organising the referee and coach joint training camp before the Olympic Games is a novel and significant initiative to ensure the fairness of the Olympic taekwondo competitions.
"The London Olympics will serve as a perfect platform for the sport of taekwondo to showcase its beauty and philosophy."
Dr Chungwon Choue, President of the WTF, also emphasised that the event was hugely important for the sport ahead of London 2012.
"We are one family and we approach the future of our sport together," said Choue.
"We must display only the best of our sport to the world in London.
"Olympic spirit and sportsmanship are expected from each of us.
"This must be our first duty, always.
"We have done our best to make great changes in our sport and our organisation.
"We have increased transparency and fair play in our competitions, but we have to continue to do even better."
Delegates attending the event each defined their objectives for London 2012 as key stakeholders while they also called upon each other to do their utmost to display the Olympic values and spirit.
The competition in Beijing four years ago was marred by judging controversies, the most notable of which involved Britain's Sarah Stevenson.
In the final round of her quarter-final against China's Chen Zhong, the gold medal favourite, the judges failed to award Stevenson two points for a high-kick to the head, which would have put her one point in the lead with 10 seconds remaining.
The result was reversed after Britain appealed and Stevenson went on to win a bronze medal.
The controversy has led to several major changes, including the introduction of electronic body armour that helps improve scoring for the competitors.
"Our sport is clean and fair to the highest level," said WTF vice-president Ivan Dibos, who is also an IOC member.
"Your behaviour in London will count a lot," he told delegates.
"You will be the main carrier of our image.
"The main task for people involved in the management of the sport – like NOCs (National Olympic Committees), IFs (International Federations) and IOC members – is the welfare of the athletes."
He also had a message for referees and coaches: "Please always remember that the athletes are the reason for us to be here."
The London 2012 taekwondo competition will get underway at ExCeL in London's Docklands on August 8.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
August 2008: Taekwondo act for 2012 after judging fiasco