Olympic Spirit cannot tolerate Throwing Matches
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 3, 2012
Summary: On the fifth day of the London Olympics, one of the ugliest scandals in
Olympic history took place. Eight women badminton players from Mainland
China, South Korea, and Indonesia, deliberately threw matches to avoid
more powerful competitors. The World Badminton Federation disqualified
the players for violating player guidelines. These players have lost
face for themselves, their countries, and the Olympics.
Full Text below:
On the fifth day of the London Olympics, one of the ugliest scandals in Olympic history took place. Eight women badminton players from Mainland China, South Korea, and Indonesia, deliberately threw matches to avoid more powerful competitors. The World Badminton Federation disqualified the players for violating player guidelines. These players have lost face for themselves, their countries, and the Olympics.
Throwing these matches was an outrage, These players threw these matches right in front of 6000 spectators. They pretended they could not return serves, or deliberately returned them out of bounds. They deliberately gave away points to their opponents. Seeing this, many fans booed. Twice, the referee issued black cards. He warned players that they must actively attack and defend. The quadrennial Olympic Games represents the pinnacle of world sports. How can it tolerate players manipulating the audience and the judges, and trampling over the sport?
Let us carefully study the events surrounding these incidents. The most blameworthy is the Mainland China team, which initiated this tactic. Yu Yang and Wang Li are the world's best women's doubles players. They should have shown their fans their best game. Instead, they deliberately lost to rival South Korea in the preliminaries to avoid a premature encounter with another group of Mainland players. Their hoped the Mainland team would eventually win both the gold and the silver. They wanted to keep it "all in the family." This Mainland team strategy received a warning from the referee. The South Korean team also expressed disapproval. Predictably, the South Korean team soon began copying the Mainland strategy. It soon began throwing its match against the weaker Indonesian team. Its outrageous behavior was more than the audience could bear.
Once the dispute arose, these teams defended their actions. They claimed they were making "reasonable use of the rules of the game." They claimed that "throwing matches" was a commonly used strategy, and that it was not illegal. Their attitude evinced a lack of introspection, and worse, opportunism. It unconsciously introduced bad practices into the Olympic Games. The Olympic Badminton Federation adopted a new round robin elimination format. Its purpose was to avoid eliminating strong competitors prematurely as a result of bad luck. Who knew that the Mainland Chinese and South Korean teams would abuse the goodwill of the Olympics Committee, and use this foreknowledge of their opponents to throw matches? Especially regrettable was that the first to throw matches were the world's top two players. Confronted with such naked fraud, the Olympic Badminton Federation dealt with the matter harshly. Otherwise how could it uphold the reputation of the sport and the spirit of competition?
Looking further ahead individual gold medal competitors must not throw matches based on their own discretion. Such decisions must be left to coaches. They must be tactical decisions by the coaching staff as a whole. Yu Yang and Wang Li lost their bids for gold. But they have only themselves to blame. These Asian nations' victory at any price values call for deep introspection. There is no shame in losing the gold as long as one competes with all one's might. But these shameful losses were the result of certain coaches' calcuations. The damage done to the reputation of the players and the sport is irreparable. Actually, the players are the victims rather than the culprits. The accusing finger of public opinion must not be misdirected.
The Olympic Games are the arena for the world's top players. It is the temple to the pursuit of the highest ideals of sports. The ideals people champion are "faster, higher, farther," not "gold, silver and bronze." During the current Olympic Games many competitors from Mainland China were proud winners of Olympic medals. But the badminton match throwing incident has exposed the dark side of sports. The horse may already have been stolen. But the barn door must be repaired regardless.
The Olympic Committee disqualified players who threw matches. The soul-searching on the Chinese Mainland appears louder than in South Korea. The public and the government have been critical of the match throwing. They say dignity and integrity are more important than gold medals. This at least is a welcome phenomenon. Since the opening of the London Olympics, Mainland society has engaged in two waves of soul-searching. One. The opening ceremonies demonstrated the power of culture. This impressed the world more than the power of the state. Two. The players' behavior led to the recognition that sportsmanship is more important than gold medals.
A silver medal weight lifter who failed to win the gold wept apologetically. He said "I apologize to my country. I apologize to everyone." Many netizens responded, "You need not apologize. The nation should apologize to you." The myth of the gold medal must be shattered. Only then will the true spirit of the Olympics return. Only then will players cease to be mindless robots programmed to win medals.
The Badminton Federation's actions did not jointly and severally punish coaches or players. Player disqualifications were limited to the current Olympic Games. The iron fist showed mercy. But it was sufficient to teach the various nations' players a lesson. Bring back the spirit of the Olympics. Do not introduce various nations' bad habits into the Olympic Games.
2012.08.03 02:50 am