Friday August 19th, 2016

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Taekwondo has been noticeably more colorful at the Rio Games. Branching out from the traditional white garb, each country had the opportunity to pick a color to represent them. While it may not seem like a big change, it’s something that many traditionalists were not too thrilled about.

Another change for the sport in Rio is the use of sensor-equipped headgear that will team up with the vests that were introduced in 2012. These new technological changes will assist in matches and help decrease the chance of controversial issues like the one back in 2008 where the result of a quarterfinal match was overturned because officials missed the winning kick. The electronic sensors that the headgear and vests are rigged with part of the Protective Scoring System (PSS) and work with the socks the competitors wear to “measure the impact of any strikes delivered and automatically record valid points for those strikes.”

“Especially at the Olympic Games, the fair and transparent result is very important,” World Taekwondo Federation president Chungwon Chou said in a statement. “That is why we tried very hard to introduce the electronic scoring system in London.”

A few more changes to the sport includes switching to an octagon-shaped mat rather than a square, the ability to have music playing as the competitors walk out and a slight change in scoring (more points for spinning kicks).

“London 2012 was a landmark moment for our sport, but we want to build on that momentum and deliver an unforgettable experience for athletes and fans in Rio,” Chou said. “This means delivering the optimum conditions for our elite athletes to be able to compete at their best, providing fair and transparent competitions and ensuring that fans are entertained before, during and after competitions.”

Taekwondo started Wednesday and will continue until Saturday, so make sure to catch a match or two and see the new attire and tech in action. If you have any difficulty, the WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) created an app that can help fans keep up-to-date on major international competitions and events.

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