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A Nightmare Called the “2nd Indian Open”

Bollywood could not make a more chilling image of a taekwondo competition than the Taekwondo Federation of India (TFI) and the World Asian Taekwondo (WTA) made together.

Open tournaments have long been a great part of World Taekwondo (WT) history. Organizers of such competitions, under the careful direction of their continental unions, construct a controlled and friendly environment to give the athletes and coaches the opportunity to interact.

Of course there is always competitiveness and rivalries among the participants but nonetheless they create an atmosphere to allow the athletes to be free of any stress other than who they might be facing on the court.

Well that’s how taekwondo competitions are usually organized but apparently not in India!

To be clear when we say “not in India”, we are not talking about Indian sports or how competitions are organized in India in general.

We are not even going to talk about Taekwondo Federation of India’s current administration woes or their events organization track record, which by the way according to Indian athletes and coaches has always been as scary, but we are going to talk about the “2nd Indian Open” and its organization in particular.

Taekwondo Federation of India’s and the Technical Delegate’s management skills together held an event so dreadful and unorganized that no other competition experience can even come close to what the athletes, coaches and referees went through in this nightmarish event.

Regretfully for all parties concerned, lack of human values, common sense and management was so evident right from the get go that “2nd Indian Open” was clearly destined for failure even before it started.

So who should be held accountable for this disaster?

President of WTA, Prof. Kyu Seok Lee, who recommended the TD and was present during the event, Vice President AbuBakr Kurdi who incidentally also served as the Technical Delegate, TFI Secretary General Prabhat Sharma and his brother the Vice President or could it be all together?

Strangely enough they each played a part in this tragedy called the “2nd Indian Open”.

World Taekwondo Asia (WAT), Prof. Kyu Seok Lee, witnessed firsthand of the misery the athletes and coaches were experiencing. He walked through the extremely overcrowded Warm Up Area set up at the VIP entrance of the venue (a 40 sq. meter area with about half covered by mats with over 250 athletes and coaches cramped in), in addition to being well aware that the IRs were working for over seventeen hours a day.

Mr. AbuBakr Kurdi, WAT Vice President and Technical Delegate for this event, who never got a grip on what he was supposed to be doing. He compromised his position and his role as a TD when he made no efforts to put things right from the very beginning.

He made constant one sided decision that had no compassion for the athletes and coaches, considering the frantic situation they were going through. These athletes and coaches not only had suffered financially but some had traveled for more than 3 or 4 days with some of the participants being as young as 12 years old just to participate in the “2nd Indian Open”   

And finale Taekwondo Federation of India (TFI) Secretary General, Prabhat Sharma, and his brother the Vice President who, other than on paper, basically did not have an organizing committee to do the actual organizing!

They had no idea what it takes to form an international event and treated the “2nd Indian Open” as just another local event with all the chaotic elements. 

They tried to glamourize the event, there was a giant screen TV and some live broadcast, but once we got passed the glimmer there was nothing else there. Front and Back of the house were in absolute confusion and disorder. Competition was interrupted constantly to the point that when a famous Indian actor came to the hall at 10 pm the competition was shut down for almost one hour because all the Indian referees had rushed to the stage to take selfies with him but the sad point was that this included the TD as well.

We cannot mention in details of all the things that were wrong as it would take days to recount everything.

However we will point out some of the major issues that should be alarming enough for World Taekwondo to inquire from World Asian Taekwondo about what really went on in the “2nd Indian Open”.

-          Lack of transparency

-          Total disregard for WT Competition Rules

-          Changing center Referee in the middle of the match (After 2nd round)

-          Over registration off the official site by Taekwondo Federation of India

-          Major mismanagements by the Technical Delegate

-          Absence of an Organizing Committee

-          Absence of an appropriate Warm Up Area

-          Absence of the right environment for the International Referees to judge the competition

(The IRs were never picked up from the airport, worked for about 17 or more hours a day)

-          Running matches with one Judge and a center referee

-          Running one minute, one round matches

-          Widespread falsified disqualifications to lighten the load of the athletes and the number of matches

-          Cancellation of Head of Team and Drawing of Lots

-          Absence of Medal Ceremonies for some weight categories

       (Some medal ceremonies were held about 1 or 2 AM)

-          Absence of air conditioning in the Warm up and main hall (The venue was cooled by fans and a few water coolers)


“2nd Indian Open” was a G1 competition and as such it must be governed according to the WT Competition rules but the only thing that was completely ignored was World Taekwondo’s guidelines.

Article 1 of the WT Competition rules clearly states: “The purpose of the Competition Rules is to provide standardized rules for all levels of Championships …WT Continental Unions,……Member National Associations; ……….. Competitions are conducted in a fair and orderly manner.” which by WT’s own interpretation is “Any competition not following the fundamental principles of these rules cannot be recognized as Taekwondo competition.”

That seems clear enough to follow but to put it simply World Taekwondo Asia’s nonchalance President, TD’s negligence and carelessness in regards to WT Competition Rules added with Taekwondo Federation of India’s lack of respect for anything that WT stands for and the most basic human values ruined what should have been a great competition that India had waited and had eagerly anticipated for many years. 

Let us have a look at some pictures that may help our readers to get a better feeling for what we are talking about.

Registration and Draw of Lots were being done on the Field of Play

Warm Up Area

Inspection Table and Holding Area

And Here are some pictures and comments by one of the International Referee on his social media account