The Olympic taekwondo tournament is made up of 64 men and 64 women competing across eight weight classes. Each country is able to send a total of four athletes -- a maximum of two men and two women -- to compete in qualified weight classes.
Olympic Taekwondo Tournament Format
The Olympic taekwondo competition is made up of a single-elimination tournament, but an early loss doesn't necessarily mean a fighter will go home empty handed. If an athlete is defeated by a finalist, he or she is moved to the repechage bracket. In the repechage competition, athletes have an opportunity to fight back for a bronze medal.
In taekwondo, two bronze medals are awarded in each weight class. The winners of the repechage competition meet the losers of the semifinals in bronze-medal matches. The winners of those matches go home with bronze medals around their necks, while the losers finish with no tangible award.
The winners of the semifinals matches advance to the final match, where the winner takes home gold and the loser takes home silver.
Scoring and Format for Matches
In order to win a taekwondo match, athletes must score more points than their opponents. Points are awarded for kicks or punches to body or head protectors, and athletes can receive as many as four points per strike. For example, an attack to a body protector is worth one point, while a turning kick to the head is worth four points.
Judges sit in each corner of the mat and record points electronically. In order to earn a point, a majority of judges must record the points electronically within a set number of seconds. Each match is made up of three two-minute periods.
Rule Infringements and Penalties
When athletes break taekwondo rules during a match, two things can happen. For less serious offenses, fighters receive warnings, and after two warnings, a point is awarded to the opponent. For more serious infringements, fighters can receive one-point deductions.
Warning infringements include hitting an opponent below the waist or using a knee to strike, while more serious infractions include striking an opponent while he or she is on the ground.
Sandra Johnson is a longtime Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46