Badminton can be a surprisingly entertaining sport to watch. The action is fast and furious and it requires a high degree of athleticism. But, when teams intentionally try to lose, it becomes pretty dull and obvious. Four badminton teams were disqualified from the Olympics on Wednesday for intentionally trying to lose their matches in order to get a more favorable draw in the medal round. Eight players in all were suspended from China, South Korea and Indonesia.
According to CNN, “four pairs of players were charged with not doing their best to win a match and abusing or demeaning the sport.” During the matches in question, the teams were seen intentionally serving the into the net, missing shots on purpose and barely chasing after the shuttlecock in order to lose points. Since the teams were trying to lose but also playing against each other, it made for comically poor play. In the match between the South Korea and Indonesia, the crowd booed its disapproval and players were repeatedly warned to pick up their sluggish play by the referee. The Chinese team has accepted its disqualification and its head coach has apologized. South Korea and Indonesia are appealing the rulings. Sebastian Coe, head of the London Olympics, described the play as “depressing” and “unacceptable.”
The South Korea and Indonesia teams are contesting that they were simply trying to increase their chances of medaling by improving their draw, so what is the harm in that? Do the ends justify the means? Perhaps the system is flawed, but this is definitely not what Pierre de Coubertin had in mind when he first introduced the Olympic Creed in 1908, which states: “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.”
What do you think?