Mohamed Shaaban will be the first Egyptian to preside over a competition at the Olympic Games after his appointment as technical delegate to the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Basically, Shaaban, better known as Meedo, becomes the first non-African Arab to preside over taekwondo events at the Olympics.
At Paris 2024, Meedo, who is a member of the World Taekwondo Council and chairman of the Games Committee, will be the youngest to take over and the fifth non-Egyptian to take on the responsibility of the post.
“It’s a big challenge and I want to be better than my predecessors,” Meedo told Al-Ahram Weekly. “It’s also a great honour,” Shaaban said of being chosen as the taekwondo technical delegate for the Paris Olympics.
“I am very happy because this position is at the highest level in the sport, but you have to know that it is a big responsibility. I must be worthy of the confidence of the world president of taekwondo, Dr. Chungwon Choue, who chose for this position.
Meedo said that between now and the 2024 Olympics, “I need to be in constant communication with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Organizing Committee for the Paris Olympics. I need to settle all the details with them regarding the organization of the taekwondo events at the Olympic Games: tickets and their prices, the competition hall, the calendar, the colours, the format and the design of the hall and the tatamis (mats).
“I will begin my mission this week with a first control visit to the Grand Palais in Paris which will be the scene of the taekwondo events from August 7 to 10, 2024. In addition to the organization, I am responsible for all the technical details of the competitions and I participate in the selection of Olympic referees. In short, I must ensure that all technical aspects of the planning and management of Olympic competitions are undertaken in accordance with the rules and practices of the World Federation (WT) and that all working conditions and services for the WT and technical officials are at a sufficient level. I would also be expected to chair team leader meetings and draws, review and approve contingency plans, and make final decisions on such cases. »
Meedo pointed out that Choue had chosen him for the position which takes into consideration several criteria including competence, experience, achievements in recent years, language and means of communication. “After going through all these criteria he chose me, which puts a big responsibility on my shoulders and my goal is to live up to everyone’s expectations.”
Meedo, chairman of the taekwondo games committee at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, explains the difference with Paris. “At the Tokyo Olympics, I was in charge of directing the competitions, but the technical delegate was the Frenchman Philippe Bouedou, former president of the Games committee. So my responsibility was only during the competition but in Paris 2024, I am responsible from now on. The technical delegate is the representative of World Taekwondo at the Olympic Games, so I am responsible for all the details concerning taekwondo at the Olympic Games from here until the Olympic Games in Paris.
Meedo’s main goal is to make taekwondo more lively and attractive with more excitement. On a technical level, taekwondo in Paris will be more dynamic since the Olympics will be played according to the new “Best of 3” game system instead of points (note: the winner must win two sets out of three and not on points). There may be small changes in the application of the new laws. When asked if the new format would change which countries dominate the disciplines, Meedo told the Weekly that in fact, the plan for taekwondo changes with every Olympics. “Each year, new countries start to climb the world podium. At the Tokyo Olympics, the average age of Olympic medalists was very young. Several Youth Olympic Games medalists like Egypt’s Seif Eissa have won medals. And new countries have climbed onto the Olympic podium, such as Uzbekistan, which won a gold medal for a taekwondo player who was not in the standings before the Olympics. During the last junior world championships, new countries once again made it to the podium, such as India.
As for how he rates the standard of taekwondo in Egypt, Meedo said Egyptian taekwondo is on the right track. “From the beginning of the year, the Pharaohs won medals in every competition including the Arab Championships, the Al-Fujairah Open, the Algerian Mediterranean Games, the African Championships, the Junior and Cadet World Championships. and the Rome World Taekwondo Grand Prix. Egyptian taekwondoists have experience of success especially team star Eissa as her Olympic bronze medal gives more strength to the team. Indeed the Egyptian team brings together very young athletes. Even Eissa is still very young and at the Paris Olympics he will be at his sporting maturity. He’s a great candidate for an Olympic medal, but they need to gain more experience by playing a good number of international tournaments which would improve their world ranking. The most important is the continuation of tournaments and preparation camps. You should know that today sport requires a lot of money for plane tickets, hotel accommodation and registration for competitions. The Egyptian Federation therefore needs sponsors to always have money and carry out long-term planning.
Meedo said he thinks African taekwondo has seen a big boost in recent years. “The African continent achieved a feat at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics by winning five Olympic medals, including the bronze medal of Egyptian star Hedaya Malak. At the Tokyo Olympics, the Africans continued their momentum by winning four Olympic medals, two of which by Eissa and Malak who won his second Olympic medal. Thus the African continent brings together major nations in the discipline, including Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Morocco and Tunisia. These countries can continue their momentum and we will find new countries in the future.
Meedo started his career as a taekwondo player at Al-Zohour club in 1992, then a member of the Egyptian Taekwondo Federation from 1994 to 2004. From 2012 to 2017, he was a member of the board of directors of the Egyptian Federation taekwondo and general supervisor. of the national team. From 2015, he served as Vice Chairman of the World Taekwondo Technical Committee, Chairman of the WT Games Committee and a member of the WT Federation.
*A version of this article appeared in the September 15, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.