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Yesterday I read about the latest "scandal" at the Olympic games in London, that 8 players (4 pairs) have been disqualified from the Womens' badminton championship due to "not using one's best efforts to win" (the article on BBC). This seems like quite a drastic move by the ruling bodies, and apparently it has caused one of the best players in the sport to quit badminton altogether (reference).

Neither have I seen the games on TV nor am I particularly knowledgeable about badminton regulations but I find the events, the discussion and the outcomes particularly interesting as a sports enthusiast.

So my questions regarding the events are:

  1. Are the disqualifications justified with the current regulations?
  2. Has something like this happened (in this scale that is) in badminton, or any other sport, before?
  3. What implications will this event most likely have on the sport, or the Olympic games as a whole?

Edit video showing some parts of the games in question:

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    If you'd watched it, you would want them disqualified too. It was awful. I'll provide a proper answer if I get a chance. – Ste Aug 2 '12 at 13:13
  • @Ste, is there anywhere that I can watch the game? I'm intrigued. – ODP Aug 3 '12 at 12:38
  • @OllyPrice - Not sure about the whole game but here's a BBC article about it. I watched it - it was horrendous. They just played the shuttle into the net instead of trying to serve. Horrendous. bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/19079432#asset – Ste Aug 3 '12 at 12:43
  • @Ste: the link doesnt work outside the UK – posdef Aug 3 '12 at 12:54
  • @posdef - This clip has a few moments. Search for London 2012 Badminton China Korea to get more clips: youtube.com/watch?v=hdK4vPz0qaI – Ste Aug 3 '12 at 12:58
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Are the disqualifications justified with the current regulations?

In Section 1B, Appendix 4 of the Badminton World Federation (BWF - the international governing body for the sport of badminton) Handbook is the Players' Code Of Conduct. Regulation 4 lists the "Players' On-Site Offences."

Regulation 4.5 states, "Failure to use best efforts" whose description is, "Not using one’s best efforts to win a match." The BWF is also charging the players in violation of Regulation 4.16 which states, "Unsportsmanlike conduct" whose description is, "Conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport."

Regulation 2.3 of the Players' Code Of Conduct state:

Any player who commits any offence defined in Regulations 3 to 5 shall be deemed to have breached this Code. Breaches of the Code constitute the basis for disciplinary action against the player.

Therefore, if judges determined that a player was "not using one’s best efforts to win a match," then the disqualifications (and subsequent disciplinary actions) are justified.


Has something like this happened (in this scale that is) in badminton, or any other sport, before?

In London during the 2012 Olympics, Japanese soccer coach Norio Sasaki instructed his players not to score to maintain a 0-0 tie. A tie means their team would stay in Cardiff, rather than going to Glasgow, for the quarterfinal. However, no disciplinary action will be made by FIFA.


What implications will this event most likely have on the sport, or the Olympic games as a whole?

The "round-robin" system was set up for competitive balance. In the old system, a country could win gold and silver medals by winning all their games. In the new system, the intent was to prevent such by making teams with the most wins eliminate one another before the finals.

The Chinese tried to take advantage by losing so they didn't have to eliminate their compatriots. On the other hand, South Korea deliberately tried to lose so they could play easier opponents.

I would imagine the BWF will change their system to prevent anything similar from happening in the future.....perhaps single-elimination games?

As for the Olympic games, that's a work in progress. There has already been much controversy surrounding these games, and this situation helps none. However, as big as the Olympics are, there will be a new crop of players training to compete for their country in 2016.

  • How are they able to know if one is not giving their best effort? – Dynamic Aug 2 '12 at 18:56
  • To know is one thing. To judge is another. – user527 Aug 2 '12 at 19:08
  • Hm. That's kind of odd that they can judge whether or not you're trying while you are the only one who knows. – Dynamic Aug 2 '12 at 19:50
  • Who would admit that they were not trying? I did not see any of these teams come out and say, "I know I was not trying." In fact, South Korea appealed the disqualification, but it was rejected. – user527 Aug 2 '12 at 20:00
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    @Max "Every intention of winning...to their advantage to win a medal" is different from "not using one’s best efforts to win a match." – user527 Aug 27 '12 at 2:23
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As an avid badminton player this was quite a disgraceful act. It leads on to other sports, very linked with "match fixing." To answer your question does it happen in any other sport? Yes, cricket is a prime example. The lucrative nature of modern cricket bring both types of money into the game - white and black. Bowlers intentionally bowling no-balls, captains intentionally making poor tactical decisions and fielder's dropping simple catches are all examples of math-fixing.

Many of these players received bans, lifetime bans, fines and even jail sentence. A similar instance also occurred in a World Cup many years back where South Africa fielded a second-string team in their last round-robin match in order to lose, and to face an easier opponent in the quarter-final. There were sever repercussions for coaches, management, and the South Africa Cricket Board.

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