By Lauren Mattera 

Taekwondo safetyDecember 14 - Taekwondo is among the safest contact sports within the Olympic programme, with the injury rate at an all-time low of just 0.31 per cent, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) 2012 Medical study claimed today.

The much anticipated report, which underlines statistics from the London 2012 Olympic taekwondo event and the WTF World Cup Team Taekwondo Championships held earlier this year in Aruba, proves the safety of the sport, officials claim, and was published to silence doubts surrounding the safety of the martial art.

The dossier was measured using independent statistics from the French health insurance provider, Mutuelle des Sportifs, and demonstrates that there have been zero knock-outs, zero serious injuries and zero fights forfeited due to injury sustained during both competitions and foremost a consistent drop in taekwondo athlete injuries year-after-year for the past four years, WTF official claim.

In addition, just less than four athletes in every 1,000 have suffered injuries in either competitions or training, which equates to an impressive 16.2 per cent reduction in injuries in the last two seasons and an 18.4 per cent reduction since the 2008-2009 season.

The number of head injuries has also declined as the 2011-2012 season in France witnessed just one reported head injury among an outstanding 52,397 registered taekwondo players, the report claimed.

Speaking from the WTF's Lausanne headquarters, secretary general Jean-Marie Ayer said: "We are delighted with the findings of this study.

"Overall, it proves that taekwondo is a safe sport that is getting safer by the year.

"It is particularly pleasing to see that our rule changes have had the positive impact on athletes' welfare that we were looking for: now that points can be scored with just a light touch to the head, accuracy and speed are more important than impact.

Taekwondo London 2012The report highlights an 18.4 per cent reduction in the taekwondo injury rate since the 2008-2009 season

"We have all but eliminated knock-outs – the phrase is not even in our competition vocabulary any more.

"Simultaneously, we have made taekwondo a faster, more exciting spectacle for fans and a safer, more accessible sport for athletes."

In 2010, in a reaction aimed at overcoming criticism of the sports safety, WTF moved to make comprehensive changes.

This included the introduction of the Protection Scoring System (PSS) – body armour which features electronic body protector sensors that register kicks and punches if applied with sufficient force, as well as adjusting the rules to allow points being awarded for a light touch to the head.

Dr Paul Viscogliosi, chairman of the WTF Medical Commission, said: "Taekwondo has been traditionally classified a 'mild risk' sport by health insurers, but that has not stopped the WTF from continually innovating and evolving the sport to improve the welfare of our athletes.

"State-of-the-art protective wear and amendments to the rules have helped push the overall injury rate down by nearly a fifth since 2008-2009.

"Now the WTF is at an advanced stage of developing electronic protective and scoring headgear, which should make athletes of all ages and abilities even safer."

The full 2012 Medical Report will be available to download from the WTF on Monday (December 17).

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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