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Olympic Badminton Scandal 2012: Athletes Shouldn't Have Been Banned for Strategy

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28:  Yang Yu (R) and Xiaoli Wang (L) of China returns a shot against Michele Li and Alex Bruce of Canada during their Women's Doubles Badminton on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Arena on July 28, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Eric BallFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2012

The Olympic heads overacted with the women’s Olympic badminton scandal, plain and simple.

They saw four teams from China, South Korea and Indonesia almost comically hit the birdie into the net, and the International Olympic Committee looked at it as a slap in the face of the competitive spirit of the Olympics. They were banned from the remainder of the London Games. 

The reaction of the IOC was swift, and that might not be the end of it, according to the Associated Press:

Federation officials concluded that the players conducted themselves in a manner that was "clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport."

The International Olympic Committee still could remove the players' accreditation and force them to vacate the athletes' village. It also can order further investigation.

All of this because the offending teams wanted a more favorable matchup later in the tournament?

The teams who tanked did so in order to receive a more favorable draw after round-robin play. It’s the Badminton World Federation’s fault for creating an environment which does not encourage teams to win each and every match.

To me this is no different than when the Indianapolis Colts used to sit Peyton Manning when his team had already locked up its playoff seeding. While the Colts at least made an attempt to win, suddenly a juggernaut was getting crushed by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The ultimate goal of raising the Lombardi Trophy was still there, but they sacrificed a lesser game to ensure they were ready for the ultimate test. Sound familiar?

Or how about their “Suck for Luck” campaign this past season? The ultimate goal remains the same.

I agree the blatant way the teams lost was disgraceful; they should have at least shown a better effort. But they didn’t intentionally lose because seedy gamblers were telling them to; they were doing it with one eye on the rest of the tournament.

One of the duos to get busted was a China team who were the defending world champions. You can’t tell me their definitive goal wasn’t to win a gold medal.

And isn’t that the only thing that should truly matter in the Olympics?

Isn’t it nothing more than gamesmanship in the same way that acting like you got hit by a pitch when you know you didn’t is?

This isn’t the 1919 Black Sox scandal; it was a select few teams who were looking to take advantage of a quirky set of rules.

The four duos did not deserve to be kicked out of the 2012 Olympic Games and certainly no further disciplinary action should be taken against them. Hopefully this will get the ball rolling on a new set of rules for the sport, but eight women have already been the casualties of a broken system.

Something needs to change. 


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