Image from mirror.co.uk
“This is my last game. Farewell Badminton World Federation. Farewell my dear badminton,” read a comment by Yu Yang, one of China’s badminton stars on the micro-blogging service Tencent late yesterday. On 1 August, Wednesday, eight badminton players were disqualified from the London 2012 Summer Olympics for playing to lose. This included the World’s Champion badminton doubles team from China that consisted Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, as well as their South Korean counterparts, Jung Kyun Eun and Kim Ha Na during their game at the Wembley Arena.
With incessant strokes in the net, sloth-like playing, and intentional dumps out-of-court, the longest rally ended up at only 4 points, attracting loud jeering from the audience, who were not blind to the overt feeble play. The crowd yelled “Off! Off! Off!” to already horrified viewers all around the world, and as the BBC’s David Mercer said, according to the Washington Post, “They’re serving fault and fault! They are just hitting the ball into the net! They are both trying to lose, and that is unforgivable. This is the Olympic Games.”
While both teams had already qualified for the top 16, both wanted to lose in order to avoid playing China’s number-2 team. Wang and Yu to avoid playing teammates, and Jung and Kim to raise their chances of advancing to the following round, as their chances of beating China’s number-2 team were almost zero. While tournament referee Torsten Burg implored and attempted to advice them otherwise, the farce of flagrant disregard for sportsmanship and fair play continued. Consequently, while China did lose 21-11, both teams were jeered off the court, and eventually disqualified.
Similarly, South Korea’s Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung and Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii were also kicked out from the match for attempting similar feats in their match to improve their standing in the next round. As International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press, “Such behavior is incompatible with the Olympic values.” Honestly, it was embarrassing at best, not only how the players were making ridiculous faults that should not even be expected from a beginner (not to mention an Olympic athlete), but that they were in flagrant violation of the core of the Olympic Spirit: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” Not only have these players failed to play well by not doing their best to honor the sport and play to the best of their ability, their loose morals demean the pride of their country, as well as that of the sport. According to The Indy Channel, while the Chinese badminton coach apologized for the behaviour of China’s players, who “failed to demonstrate their fighting spirit”, Wang and Yu were both indignant on their Weibo accounts and cited reasons such as injury. Although CCTV aired videos of Yu and Wang apologizing, as seen on the Weibo, Yu wrote, “We were injured before the match, and we were using the rule to give up the match to be better prepared for the knockout round. Do you know how much pain we suffer when we athletes get injured and still have to compete?” In addition, Wang accused her injuries and blamed the federation’s “imperfect rules”.
I guess, while Wang, Yu, and the rest of the disqualified players were clearly gunning for gold, and probably viewed their actions as mere stepping stones in the process, I believe, contentiously, that they, simply put, failed to honor the spirit of badminton, of sports, and of the Olympics.