Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feets Don't Fail Me Now!

Taekwondo fighters participating in the Asian Games wear custom socks equipped with electronic sensors. The sensors permit an electronic scoring system to tally the point count whenever a contact is made on an opponent’s sensors. If a competitor is wearing more than the permitted number of sensors in his socks the additional sensors that register his contact made by foot strikes is dishonestly increased and can potentially boost that fighter's score unfairly.

Judges at the Asian Games discovered that Yang Shu-chun, representing Taiwan, was wearing extra sensors in her socks during a women's 49kg match. Yang whwas wearing a detachable electronic sensor patch attached to the outside of each of her socks. The extra sensors were removed and the fight proceeded. Subsequently the patches were formally ruled illegal and the bout was halted. Yang, who had been out scoring her South Korean opponent 9-0 in the first round, was disqualified and proclaimed to be a cheat. Score one for sportsmanship upheld by vigilant officiating! If only the wide variety of sports cheating methods were so effectively identified and penalized, what a wonderful world of sports it would be.

Back in Taiwan news of the decision sparked unruly protests. Taiwanese television featured footage of a man in a Taipei street burning a South Korean flag. The Asian Taekwondo Union (ATU) website presented a statement that condemned Yang Shu-chun for what they termed a "shocking act of deception." The web-site was promptly attacked by hackers. In a further twist, Taiwan threatened to take the controversy to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if the taekwondo governing body refused to apologize for its "false accusations" against Yang Shu-chun. Such dramatic after-the-fact exchanges of heated opinions on the matter prove that whatever happens in the ring is not always left in the ring. War On Sports will track this specific issue and provide pertinent updates as they develop.

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