Keep taekwondo in Olympics, South Korean President-elect urges Rogge

Saturday, 02 February 2013
By Duncan Mackay in Seoul

Jacques Rogge meets Park Geun-hye Seoul February 1 2013February 2 - South Korea's President-elect Park Geun-hye has taken the opportunity during a meeting with Jacques Rogge to urge him to keep taekwondo as part of the Olympic programme.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due later this month to announce which sport will be removed from its programme of 26 core sports.

Whichever sport is chosen is expected to be dropped from the Olympic programme after Rio 2016 and be replaced by one of the seven sports bidding to join the Games.

Taekwondo was among the sports originally thought to be among the most vulnerable but following a successful London 2012 those fears have receded. 

But Park, who is due to become South Korea's first female President when she replaces Lee Myung-bak on February 25, nevertheless used her first meeting with Rogge to emphasise the importance to her country of the ancient sport that has its roots here remaining on the Olympic programme. 

"Taekwondo is suitable for youth education as it teaches a sense of respect along with sportsmanship ahead of techniques," Park said during a meeting with Rogge.

The IOC President diplomatically did not promise Park anything ahead of the IOC Executive Board meeting in Lausanne on February 12 and 13 but told he respected its "sipirit", according to an official. 

Hwang Kyung-Seon London 2012Hwang Kyung-Seon won South Korea's only taekwondo gold medal at London 2012

Taekwondo's chances of staying on the Olympic programme were boosted hugely at London 2012 when the eight gold medals were won by competitors from eight different countries, including Britain's Jade Jones, who took victory in the lightweight division.

Overall, athletes from 21 different countries shared the 32 medals, making taekwondo one of the most diverse events of the Olympics. 

Korean Olympic Committee President Y.S. Park admitted that he was initially disappointed that South Korea did not do better than the one gold and one sliver they claimed but that the tournament represented a major step forward for the sport's global development.

"I was quite disappointed [South Korea did not win more medals] but on the other hand I was also quite happy [because of the diversity of medals in London]," said Park.

"Everyone thinks taekwondo is a very good game, more dynamic than ever."

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