Thursday, November 18, 2010

Asian Games 2010: Taiwanese taekwondo competitor disqualified for using unauthorised footgear

Tearful Taiwanese taekwondo competitor Yang Shu-chun was disqualified from the Asian Games on Wednesday for using unauthorised footgear, sparking protests from team officials

Asian Games 2010: Taiwanese taekwondo competitor disqualified for using unauthorised footgear
High stakes: the taekwondo event at the Asian Games has been hit by controversy Photo: REUTERS
The dispute later escalated when Taiwanese journalists harangued officials and sparred with mainland Chinese reporters during a heated news conference in which it was alleged the disqualification was politically motivated.
The sport's taekwondo federation, however, denied this.
In the Korean martial arts discipline, which involves full-contact punching and kicking, Yang had almost defeated Vietnamese Thi Hau Vu in a women's 49-kg event.

However, match officials halted the bout a few seconds from the end after deciding her footguards carried unauthorised extra electronic sensors behind the heel.
A tearful Yang refused to leave the arena and staged a sit-down protest on the mat, with the World Taekwondo Federation now considering whether to impose sanctions on the Olympic semi-finalist and her coach.
"We're very angry," Yang's coach Liu Ching-wen said. "The athletes prepared for these games for a year-and-a-half and her goal was to win gold but now she can't compete."
Liu pointed out that another Taiwanese Taekwondo fighter, Huang Hsien-yung, had used the same equipment winning gold in the women's 46kg category.
Taiwan officials protested against the decision, stressing the equipment had been previously approved.
"The footwear passed the original pre-match checks but during the match, when she was leading 9-0, the officials decided the footwear was unacceptable," said Taiwan team official Tang Hui-ting.
"This kind of footwear is made by a major company and we have used it before in competition," she added.
But the World Taekwondo Federation defended its decision, saying the extra sensors had been removed from Yang's socks before the bout, only for them to be fixed back on again.
Competitors must wear protective gear and gain points by attacking the body and face or knocking one another down, with the sensors helping ascertain the successful scoring of points.
"We took those sensors away from her at the competition but she added additional sensors," Yang Jin Suk, secretary general of the federation, told Reuters by telephone.
"We would like to give athletes the benefit of the doubt but we will not condone such behaviour that can be reasonably regarded as cheating."
More bad blood spilled over at a news conference when Taiwan journalists lambasted the federation's Yang and claimed the decision was politically motivated, pointing out Zhao Lei, the technical director who stopped the fight, is mainland Chinese.
Secretary general Yang, however, strongly denied any bias saying: "How could political motivation fit into this situation when it is about illegal equipment?"
Political tensions have long simmered between Taiwan and China since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island in 1949 following the Communist victory in a civil war.
China has vowed to bring the island under mainland rule, by force if necessary.

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