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How does taekwondo scoring work? How many rounds in a match at Olympics and points system explained for Tokyo 2020

Lauren Williams, Mohammed Nour and Lutalo Muhammad are just some of the athletes representing Team GB in taekwondo at the Olympics this year

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics kicked off on Friday 23 June and will see athletes from over 200 countries compete to take home gold, silver and bronze medals across a multitude of disciplines.

While you may be familiar with the rules of some of the more mainstream sports, such as swimming, rowing and running, do you know the rules and regulations of taekwondo?

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This is what you need to know.

Matea Jelic (R) of Team Croatia competes against Lauren Williams of Team Great Britain Women's -67kg Taekwondo Gold Medal contest on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall (Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

What is taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a combat sport held between two fighters in the same weight class.

Contestants wear a dobok or white competition uniform, and they must have a trunk protector, head protector and, for male athletes, a groin guard that is worn under the dobok.

Fighters must also be equipped with forearm and shin guards, gloves, sensing socks, and a mouth guard before entering the competition area.

Taekwondo athletes also wear a coloured belt around their waist, with the colour of the belt signifying that person's rank within the sport. The belts range from white to black.

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What are the rules?

All taekwondo matches last three rounds lasting two minutes each, with a one minute break between each round.

Taekwondo, which means “the way of the foot and fist”, sees athletes try to land blows and kicks to their opponent that correspond with certain points.

The objective of each fighter is to score the most points by landing blows and kicks on their opponent’s torso or head, or alternatively, to win by knockout.

The Olympics site says: “Blows must be delivered through a straight punching technique using the knuckle part of a tightly clenched fist.

“The kicks that count are those delivered using any part of the foot below the ankle bone.”

The only penalties in taekwondo is known as gam-jeom, and it is declared when an athlete punches to the face of their opponent, or punches or kicks below the waist. Attacking an opponent with the knee or the head is also not allowed.

Athletes are penalised if they use their leg to block or kick their opponent’s leg to prevent a kicking attack, have their leg in the air for more than three seconds to impede an opponent's potential attacking movements, or if a kick is adjudged to have been aiming for below the waist.

Fighters will also lose points for crossing the boundary line with both feet, falling to the ground, avoiding or delaying the match, and for pushing or grabbing their opponent.

Contestants have to watch out for how they deliver their kicks to the trunk PSS, as one can lose a point for attacking with the side or bottom of the foot while the knee is pointed out in clinch position.

Attacking a fallen opponent is also banned - any misconduct or unsportsmanlike behaviour of the contestant or their coach can also cost a point.

How does the scoring system work?

The official Olympics site explains that scoring points in taekwondo is determined “primarily using the electronic scoring system installed in the head or trunk protectors, known as the Protector and Scoring Systems (PSS)”.

Points are awarded to athletes for their punching techniques and additional points awarded for turning kicks are scored by judges using manual scoring devices.

The valid points are:

- One point for a valid punch to the trunk protector

- Two points for a valid kick to the trunk protector

- Four points for a valid turning kick to the trunk protector

- Three points for a valid kick to the head

- Five points for a valid turning kick to the head

- One point awarded for every penalty (gam-jeom) given against the opponent

If a match between two athletes is drawn, then they must compete again in something called the Golden Point Round (GDP). This is essentially a sudden death match, and the first to score a point wins.

An athlete can be awarded the match if their opponent is given two penalties during the GDP. If a match goes to GDP, then all scores awarded during the first three rounds are not considered.

An athlete can also win by superiority (SUP) if neither contestant has scored two points after the GDP. The winner will be decided by superiority based on the contestant who received a point by a punch in the GDP, or the contestant who got the higher number of hits registered by the PSS during the GDP, or the one who won more rounds in the first three rounds.

If the fighters are tied on their points, the one who received fewer penalties during all four rounds wins the match. If they are tied on penalties as well, then the referee and judges shall determine a winner based on the content of the golden round.

Who is representing team GB in taekwondo at the Olympics?

The athletes representing the UK in taekwondo at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are:

- Aaliyah Powell

- Bianca Walkden

- Bradly Sinden

- Caden Cunningham

- Chloe Roberts

- Christian McNeish

- Jade Jones

- Jonathan Bangura

- Jordyn Smith

- Josh Calland

- Lauren Williams

- Lutalo Muhammad

- Maddison Moore

- Mahama Cho

- Mason Yarrow

- Mohammed Nour

- Rebecca McGowan

The para taekwondo athletes are:

- Amy Truesdale

- Beth Munro

- Joseph Lane

- Matt Bush