Taekwondo is one of the two Asian martial arts included on the Olympic programme. Taekwondo made its debut as a demonstration Olympic sport at the 1988 Seoul Games, and became an official medal sport at the 2000 Sydney Games. The sport is practised in 188 countries and there were over seven million individuals with black belts in the world as of the end of 2008.
Current events on the Olympic programme include four weight classes each for men and women. Each event involves a single-elimination tournament to decide the gold and silver medals. Contests are scored by awarding one to three points based on scoring areas and techniques performed.
The two losing semi-finalists move directly into the semi-finals of the competition for bronze. All other competitors who lost to the two finalists compete in a knockout tournament within their original pools, and two winners emerge to fill the remaining semi-final spots. Each pool’s winner then faces the losing semi-finalist from the opposite pool to compete for the two bronze medals