Amazing disgrace — The Jakarta Post
AUG 5 — In the name of sportsmanship, we support the Badminton World Federation (BWF) in its decision to disqualify four women doubles teams, including one from Indonesia, from the current Olympic Games for deliberately trying to lose matches on Tuesday.
For Indonesia, the disqualification not only reduced its chance of grabbing medals in badminton, a sport at which it excels, but it also marred the country’s celebrations after winning a silver and a bronze in weightlifting, a feat that ensured Indonesia’s place on the medal board. To add insult to injury, however, Indonesia will also leave home without any gold medal for the first time since 1992 following the defeat of mixed doubles players Lilyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad in Thursday’s semifinals.
BWF found that doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China, their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, along with South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii had not used their best efforts to win certain matches and were therefore guilty of “conducting [themselves] in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport”.
The players must not be the lone culprits, as they may be just victims of their respective team’s strategy to win a medal at all cost. The International Olympic Committee’s order for a probe into coaches of the three badminton teams is therefore correct.
Head of Indonesia’s Olympic team Erick Thohir implied this “foul play” had been deliberately arranged when he said losing the match would give the country’s women’s doubles team a more favourable place in the next round. Indonesia, he added, would appeal the penalty on the grounds that China had practised the tactic in the past and it had gone unpunished.
But in truth, there is no excuse for such a farce, which amounts an infringement on the Olympic spirit. Even if Erick could prove the practice had been rampant prior to the current Games, two wrongs do not make a right. Indonesia has simply failed to learn from the embarrassment it endured after its soccer team intentionally scored an own goal to lose to Thailand in the Tiger Cup in 1998 in order to avoid a match up with host Vietnam.
Giving up on a match in order to ease the road to medal only demonstrates the intention to justify all means for the sake of the goal, which is not the aim of the Olympic movement since its inception more than a century ago. Considering the high bar set for the men and women intending to make it to the world’s biggest sports extravaganza, it is also unfair for both spectators and athletes who do not make the cut if there are Olympians that are influencing matches in ways that run against the spirit of the Games.
This shameful trick has tainted the London Olympics, as we see that major media outlets are covering the scandal on their front pages, the same treatment normally given to those who use performance enhancing drugs or cheat using other means at the Games. Now the damage has been done and it will be the responsibility of the national badminton body to pull Indonesia out of this disgrace.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.