BAKU, Azerbaijan (Dec, 11, 2016) - With a brand-new competitive format set to kick off at the 2016 World Taekwondo Team Championships tomorrow, a head of team meeting was held at the Baku Sport City Hotel to conduct the draw and to iron out final details.
The two-day event championships run over Dec. 12-13 at Baku’s Sarhadchi Olympic Sports Complex. The pre-competition meeting, chaired by WTF Referee Committee Chairman Chakir Chelbat, included members of the WTF Technical Committee, the head coaches of the teams who will be fighting, and the international referees who will be officiating.
Details of the event were presented by Chelbat and by WTF Sports Director, and questions from participants were answered.
The Team Championships boast a mix of fast-paced, high-explosive tag-team bouts which are widely accepted as the most exciting spectator format for taekwondo. The championships have customarily operated with male and female teams; this year, in Baku, they include a mixed-gender format.
In the female team championships, Azerbaijan, China, France, Italy, Russia, Turkey and USA will do battle; in the male team championships, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Iran, Korea, Russia, Turkey and USA will compete. And in the new, mixed-gender format, four teams – Belgium, Korea, Russia and USA will contend.
Athletes who fight on the winning teams earn valuable ranking points ahead of the 2017 fighting season.
In the customary formats, teams are composed of five athletes with the option of including one substitute; there is an overall weight limit on each team. Teams are permitted to include up to two “hired guns” from nations not represented at the competition.
In the new mixed-gender format, teams are formed of two male and two female athletes. Although the team is mixed, males will only fight males, and females will only fight females: There is no female-versus-male combat.
Team competition is composed of three rounds. The first round features numbered athletes (numbered from the lightest to the heaviest) from each team fighting their counterparts on the opposing team in turn. The two subsequent rounds are fought using a tag-team format. Fifteen gamjeoms (i.e. full-point penalties), or a 30-point gap results in loss. To ensure non-stop action, there are no video replays.
Coaches seemed cagey on the new format, with only four volunteering teams. However, there was significant curiosity about how the mixed-gender competition will turn out.
“This is a new team, a new format, and we want to taste it what it is like, to experience it,” said Belgian Team Coach Karim Dighou. “I don’t think this should be for the Olympics, but for side events, it could be fun.”
“We have a big team and it is possible for us to take part, so that was behind our decision: We can win more ranking points, so it is good for us,” said Team Russia Head Coach Vadim Ivanov. “It is the first time for this competition; we will have to watch how it goes. Afterwards, we will understand if the athletes and the spectators like it or not.”
Ivanov added: “And in the future - we will have been the first!”
After the head of team meeting, a meeting of the international referees was held to iron out finalize and clarify officiating details for the new format.
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