In a writer’s lock-down finishing a draft of the next book. Occasionally, I watch Olympic events from my beloved sports: football, rowing and boxing. But my inbox has been full this week of people asking for comments and interviews on the recent fixing in badminton. I try to keep my blog and twitter feed for only original comment. (My view of social media is that it is only good when you have something interesting to say, so I try to make sure that I say too little rather than too much.) However, there have been so many requests, I will post something now.
To review – in case you have been locked-away in a non-Olympic spot somewhere on the planet – this week the badminton world was treated to the unedifying spectacle of eight players deliberating trying to lose to make sure their next games in the tournament were easier.
The whole thing was such a farce, such an example of everything disrespectful of sport and fair play it is genuinely difficult to think of anything to say except express contempt for the players and their coaches and administrators who ordered them to act in such a way.
A few thoughts:
1) The Badminton officials did the right thing by disqualifying the athletes. Good for them. Tough decision. Well done.
2) There have been a few commentators who have spectacularly missed the point by claiming that it is the sports officials fault for organizing a tournament in this fashion. These “journalists” claim that it makes sense for intelligent athletes to get as far as they can in tournaments by fixing and cheating. It is difficult not to laugh at such stupidity from professional sporting pundits.
3) In recent years, no Chinese athlete ever did anything without being explicitly ordered to by their coaches and officials. The Chinese athletic organizations have been fixing and cheating for years in the sports that they dominate like table tennis and badminton. They fix and cheat in order to make sure that the Chinese continue to dominate, by resting their athletes and giving them easy games.
Are there any independent-minded Chinese athletes? Yes, of course. But they are currently running laps around dusty tracks in outer Tibet or suffering some worse punishment for daring to have a life, not take the prescribed pills or trying to win games that their coaches have told them to lose.
The Chinese sports world is dominated by a bunch of criminally-minded thugs who think that all athletic achievement is a reflection, not of their wonderful culture and country, but a political party that has murdered more people than anyone else in history. Losing the odd badminton match is not going to embarrass or stop these sports officials.
4) Given this context there is one thing more that badminton officials need to do – stop any country from entering more than one set of athletes for each event. After all, in the World Cup, you do not have four teams from Brazil or Argentina playing. In rowing, you do not have two Canadian teams of eight racing against each other. The advantage to this format, is that the Chinese would continue to be very good in these sports – all credit to their athletes – but it would generate more worldwide interest for these sports.
5) Until those changes are done, stand-by for more fixing.