Taiwan prez stirs taekwondo dispute

Updated: November 19, 2010, 9:08 AM ET
Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou lodged a protest Friday against the disqualification of a Taiwanese competitor at the Asian Games, with public furor mounting over the controversy.

Yang Shu-chun's disqualification occurred at the tail end of her match against Vietnamese competitor Thi Hau Vu, when judges ruled she was using illegal sensors on the heels of her shoes.

Thousands of Taiwanese citizens sent protest messages to the Asian Taekwondo Union, shutting down its website for hours, after the site posted an article calling the incident a "shocking act of deception" -- a formulation that all but blamed Yang for cheating.

The row has spurred anti-China feeling on the island, following media reports that Zhao Lei, an Asian Games official from China, was one of its authors. The competition was eventually won by China's Wu Jingyu.

Yang Jin-suk, secretary general of the World Taekwondo Federation, has said officials noticed in a pre-match inspection the 2008 Beijing Olympic competitor appeared to have one extra sensor on the heel of each shoe. Points are registered when sensors on the feet connect with others on the body protector.

"We have demanded that the match officials launch a fair and impartial probe," Ma told reporters in Taipei. "Before the probe produces a result, we will not accept any of the accusations."

Yang Shu-chun had an insurmountable lead at the time, and was seen as a serious threat to take gold. She broke down in tears when her disqualification was announced.

Games officials later upheld the decision against her, but the Taiwan delegation protested, insisting the sensors were carefully checked and approved before her match.

On Friday, public antagonism appeared to also target South Korea, with South Korea-native Yang Jin-suk insisting the charges against the Taiwanese competitor were legitimate.

Taiwanese citizens called for the boycott of South Korean products, from kimchi, to instant noodles to soap operas. But popular South Korean band Super Junior K.R.Y. arrived in Taipei on Friday without incident.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press