Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Taekwondo stays in Olympics, Park gets his bronze

South Korea’s Hwang Kyung-Seon celebrates after defending her Olympic women’s under-67 kilogram title with a victory over European champion Nur Tatar of Turkey at the London Games last year. Taekwondo, a traditional Korean martial art, will remain an Olympic sport for the foreseeable future after surviving the latest scrutiny by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).            /Yonhap
Korean footballer Park Jong-woo stirred controversy by hoisting a sign that read in Korean, "Dokdo is our territory,’’ attacking Japan’s historical claim over the tiny islets, while celebrating Korea’s 2-0 victory over Japan in the London Olympics bronze medal match last year. The IOC bans athletes from displays of any political statements and prevented Park from participating in the medal ceremony. The IOC’s Disciplinary Commission issued a warning against Park after its meeting Tuesday, but decided to give the player the medal he had been barred from collecting for six months.
Taekwondo will become one of the 25 Olympic core sports on the back of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) final scrutiny, while Greco-Roman wrestling lost its Olympic status, officials said Tuesday.

London Olympic national football team defender Park Jong-woo will receive a long-awaited bronze medal, which had been put on hold after his controversial celebration at the Games.

With the decision made at the IOC Executive Board meeting, taekwondo, Korea’s traditional martial arts, is expected to remain as an Olympic sport unless “exceptional circumstances,” such as a drug issue or a radical popularity drop occur according to IOC President Jacques Rogge.

For the 2020 Summer Olympics, the IOC will decide on a new sport to be represented with baseball-softball, roller sports, squash, karate, sport climbing, wushu and wakeboarding competing for an Olympic spot at the general meeting in Buenos Aires of Argentina in September.

Since it became an Olympic medal sport in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, taekwondo’s status has been threatened as it was embroiled with judgment controversies.

However, with a newly-adopted electronic scoring system and instant video replays for precise judgments in London, the sport swept aside such concerns.

Park had been in a bind after holding up a sign, which read “Dokdo Is Our Territory,” in the flush of victory. Dokdo are Korea’s easternmost islets which Japan has also laid claim to.

After the Disciplinary Commission reviewed Park’s action last year, the IOC decided to give him the medal.

“The IOC gave Park a strong warning,” an official with the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) said. “Also, the KOC was told to map out plans to prevent similar incidents.”

Before the meeting, Park and his team of attorneys and KOC officials explained his case to secure the medal. Tension remained until the very last minute as Park refused to answer questions from reporters, noting that he did his best to convince the IOC officials.

In December, FIFA suspended Park for two matches and fined him 3,500 Swiss francs ($3,810) as a penalty.

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