BAKU, Azerbaijan (May 28, 2023) - With just over one year to go to the Olympic Games Paris 2024, World Taekwondo’s Technical Delegate, Mohamed Shaaban, for Paris 2024 has no doubt that fans can expect a “spectacular” Taekwondo competition in 2024.
“I do believe that this will be the most impressive venue we have ever had for Taekwondo at an Olympic Games,” says Shaaban. “I think it’s a great opportunity for Taekwondo. The location of the Grand Palais is amazing. It’s in the Champs-Élysées in the centre of Paris. It will be historic. It will add more glamour to the Taekwondo sport. I think it will be spectacular.
“France is a stronghold in Taekwondo and has easy access for a lot of European countries to drive in. So, I do believe it will be remarkable in terms of spectator engagement and online engagement.”
As the youngest ever World Taekwondo Technical Delegate for an Olympic Games and the first from Africa, Shaaban recognises he has an important role to play in ensuring this iconic location is properly transformed into a world-class environment for the athletes.
“The role of Technical Delegate is to Supervise the technical aspects of the sport, Coordinating with other IFs and Paris 2024 ensuring that the competition rules and regulations are followed, overseeing the field of play and equipment, and monitoring the overall smooth running of the competition.
“Our collaboration with Paris 2024 is very good. We are lucky because the competition manager of Paris 2024 is a former Taekwondo coach at Rio 2016 Olympic Games; we know him very well and the relationship is excellent.”, as the Games Committee’s Chairman, Shaaban is confident that working with Paris 2024 and WT Sport Department they will find solutions for the current challenges and deliver an outstanding Taekwondo event.
“It is a great honour to be appointed by President Choue as the Technical Delegate,” Shaaban says. It comes with a lot of responsibility and commitment to the Games so I thank him for his trust, and I will do my best to live up to it and to our Taekwondo family expectations.
“We have an operational test in August. We are testing several aspects of the venue setup, focusing on efficient transition from Fencing to Taekwondo in a timely manner, sports presentation, and systematic operations. Like at any Olympic Games there are inevitably solutions which need to be found and the huge opportunities presented by the Grand Palais also come with some challenges.
Grand Palais is an amazing venue; we are lucky to be there. But because of the weather in summer, the temperature, and the glass ceiling, we are working with Paris 2024 to find solutions to make sure it does not hamper the performance of the athletes. We will see this and test the technology and utilise local athletes for that event.”
In order to ensure the best competition, Shaaban is also looking back to Tokyo 2020 to see what lessons can be learnt.
“In Tokyo we saw some good headshots that PSS could not capture. In Paris we will try to mitigate enhancing the PSS and add video reply for head kicks as a fail safe. So now if there’s a headshot and the system does not capture it the coach has the right to ask for it as a valid point. We are trying to give the best competition environment for the coach and the athletes,” Shaaban explains.
“In Tokyo we didn’t have the crowd so we missed a lot without them but we understand the circumstances with COVID-19. In Paris we are working on developing the lighting system surrounding the field of play. You will see the ring light up with a blue or red light depending on who scores points. The scoreboard will be enhanced so if fans tune in on TV at any time they can see all the information and will always be up to speed. It will also be the first time to use the best of three system at the Olympic Games which brings added excitement.”
It is clear Taekwondo fans have much to look forward to in Paris, from a historic venue in the heart of Paris, to new competition formats and enhanced spectator engagements. But as ever it will be the athletes who are at the heart of the Games and Shaaban is confident that by providing them with a high quality platform they will deliver another fantastic Olympic competition.
“Tokyo we had a lot of youngsters who made their name winning gold medals so everyone is interested to see how it will go in Paris. I do believe it will be an open ticket for everyone.”