TAIPEI — Almost one week after the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, Taiwan’s government could not decide whether to take the case of a controversial disqualification of a Taiwanese female taekwondo athlete in the event to an international sports arbitration institution.
An inter-agency meeting headed by Vice Premier Sean Chen failed to come to a conclusion on whether to appeal to Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) about the case of Yang Shu-chun, who was disqualified during her first-round bout in the women’s taekwondo under 49-kilogram weight division on Nov. 17 after she scored a 9-0 lead over her Vietnamese opponent.
According to World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Secretary-General Yang Jin-suk, who did not have any role in the actual decision but served as the main spokesman for the taekwondo world in the incident’s aftermath, said Yang was disqualified for wearing extra sensors on her socks in an attempt to score more points, which was an act of cheating.
All video evidence and witness accounts show that Chen had taken off the sensors before going into the ring.
The task force, which included government agencies such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Sports Affairs Council, was still unsure about the CAS’ jurisdiction on the case and what remedy it is seeking, said Sung Yao-ming, a lawyer hired by the Taiwan government to handle the case.
The CAS is established to handle sports disputes, but “we should first clarify whether this case fits the definition of a ‘sports dispute,’” Sung told reporters in a post-meeting press conference.
“We are now waiting for further information from a Swiss-based lawyer who is familiar with sports arbitration matters to have better assessment of our next move,” he said, adding that the decision “should come within days.”
However, it appeared that Taiwan is not likely to file a lawsuit against taekwondo officials in a Guangzhou court, a suggestion made by Sung after the incident, which has ignited public outrage and an anti-Korea sentiment in Taiwan and has received coverage from international media.
The controversy was so high-profile that Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Wu Den-yih had personally addressed the incident as “unfair” and had described it as damaging Taiwan’s national pride.
Citing an interpretation by China’s supreme people’s court during the 2008 Beijing Olympics stating that the court did not accept sports-related lawsuits, Sung said that a Guangzhou court could reject the case with the same reason.
SAC Chairwoman Tai Hsia-ling said that while Taiwanese fans and Taiwan government could not accept the accusations against Yang, the task force will appeal the case via legal channels.
“We’re going to approach this dispute in the same way we were trained on the sports field — to play it by the rule,” Tai said.