The 2010 Asian Games is currently taking place in Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China. In the first round of competition for taekwondo on Wednesday, Taiwanese athlete Yang Shu-chun 楊淑君 was disqualified for “using an illegal sensor on the heel of her shoes”. This decision came after Yang had led Thi Hau Vu of Vietnam 9-0 in their 49-kg bout. After reviewing the actual video shown below, we can see that even though the referee did have a question regarding the sensors on Yang’s shoes [2:28], the sensors in question were taken off Yang’s shoes before the competition began [2:40] and were not even touched during the event. It was not until 3 minutes into the match did the taekwondo technical officer called Yang off the mat to “inspect” the sensors on her shoes [5:44]. Upon finding no fault on her shoes, the technical officer asked for the two sensors taken off before the match [6:28], and claimed Yang cheated for having more sensors (those not even on her shoes during the event) than regulated [6:52], which led to the decision of disqualification. World Taekwondo Federation secretary general Yang Jin-Suk, who was present at the match, agreed with and said the decision was fair and more sanctions could be expected. Upon being asked why Yang Shu-chun had been disqualified after passing the pre-match inspection, Yang Jin-suk said he “couldn’t explain in detail because it involved personal privacy.” The decision had sparked an angry slanging match between Taiwanese and Chinese journalists at a press conference, as officials refused to translate Taiwanese journalists’ questions as to whether the decision had been politically motivated. The decision also led to much anger, upset, fury, and frustration among Taiwanese people.
Now, we Taiwanese would not have mind if Yang loses due to inferior skill. Yes, we would feel bad, but not angry. It is only when such ridiculous decision was made, possibly with other motives, that we asked the international community to please support Taiwanese athletes. Due to Taiwan’s much awkward political situation, many countries believe it is okay to disregard Taiwan’s dignity, or existence even, in international events. This was not the first incidents involving unfair decision when it comes to sports. You can almost say that we are used to it, that doesn’t mean we tolerate it. We fight on, harder than ever, to prove that even with logistical steps trying to keep Taiwanese away from winning, the skill our athletes exhibit will always triumph. Yang’s teammate, Huang Hsien-yung, won the gold medal in the 46-kg category the same day.
Setting that aside, we discuss the incident. As shown at the beginning of the video, Yang had passed the pre-match inspection, which leads us to question: if she had passed the inspection, why was the inspection in the middle of the match necessary? And, if in the middle of the match, her equipment was deemed to be illegal, shouldn’t Yang at least get a chance to replace the equipment and get a rematch, as it was the tournament officials’ error for letting her wear illegal equipments into the match in the first place, instead of straight disqualification? As Yang was one of the top athletes predicted to win a medal from the Taiwanese team, we hope for a fair and undisputed decision. In the meantime, we Taiwanese ask for all to support Yang, who should not be penalized because of error not made by her.
Update (Nov 18, 2010): The Asian Taekwondo Union has further accused Yang and her follow teammates from Taiwan of cheating, and will ban Yang and her coaches. We people of Taiwan are furious over this unfair and unreasonable decision and untruthful accusation that not only stripped away Yang’s future chance of competing, but also insulted her and in general Taiwanese athletes’ integrity and dignity. The Government of Taiwan is considering taking the case up to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Update (Nov 20, 2010): The Olympic Council of Asia, organizer of the Asian Games, has determined the accusation and description in the press release that accused Yang of cheating (now off of ATU’s website) did not match with the video recorded, and has asked for an explanation from the Asian Taekwondo Union. The Government of Taiwan has demanded an apology from the Asian Taekwondo Union for false accusation of cheating against Yang.
Update (Dec 10, 2010): The World Taekwondo Federation has scheduled to convene a disciplinary committee meeting in Seoul to discuss Yang’s case on December 18, 2010. Meanwhile, the Sports Affairs Council of Taiwan has filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) related to Yang’s disqualification through a Taiwanese law firm.
Update (Dec 21, 2010): The World Taekwondo Federation has ruled to ban Yang from competing for 3 months, suspend Yang’s coach Liu Tsung-ta 劉聰達 for one year and eight months, and fine the Chinese Taipei Taekwondo Association USD$50,000 because Yang and Liu protested the decision ringside at the Asiad on Nov. 17.
Facebook’s Support Yang Shu-chun Event has over 500,000 people attending in just one week of the incident (in Mandarin Chinese, includes vulgar and offensive languages. Please note that we meant no harm toward the general Korean or Chinese public, it’s just when things like these happen, people do tend to lose their senses. Please don’t let this incident affect your perceptions of Taiwanese and the beautiful island of Taiwan, and do know that you will be welcomed if you decide to visit Taiwan).
「要別人不欺負我們，只有一條路：自己的國家強大起來！多看書，使自己的眼光更遠大、思想更稠密、更能明辨是非善惡！如果想搞學生運動、搞示威遊行，我並不反對，但是如果單憑一鼓血氣之勇，而無知識做基礎，毫無目的地行動，到最後只是一場鬧劇而已。」—蛹之生 by 小野
About Yang Shu-chun 楊淑君
Yang Shu-chun 楊淑君, 25, is a Taiwanese taekwondo athlete. She graduated from the Chinese Culture University in Taipei City, and has been competing internationally since 2005. She was the silver-medalist in the 2005 Summer Universiade, silver-medalist in the 2006 Asian Games held in Doha, Qatar, gold-medalist in the 2008 Asian Taekwondo Championships held in Luoyang, PRC, and bronze-medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympic. She is 5th in the world in the female 49-kg category in WTF’s world ranking as of November 1st, 2010.