What IS surprising is Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) bravado to recommend to the International Olympic Committee to disqualify as many as eight players from the London Games.
Why has the BWF not banned the alleged players is a question that needs to be answered at the highest level.
The four pairs connived to throw away their matches in such a blatant manner that they all were booed off the courts and the chief referee had to intervene and show black cards to them. That was on Tuesday. It took one day to actually announce the disqualification. A black card means automatic disqualification.
Obviously, the BWF has to think of the clout China, South Korea and Indonesia enjoy in world badminton, before taking the harsher step.
To me, however, the million-dollar question is, why has the world suddenly woken up to match-fixing in badminton?
All those who have played the game since China entered the international fray in 1982, and Indonesia before them, are well aware of whispers of even the top-most Chinese players being forced to tank matches to ensure their compatriots are helped to win contests and climb up in world rankings.
At the 1980 Jakarta World Championships, there were whispers of Liem Swie King being forced to tank his final against the legendary Rudy Hartono to ensure Hartono had a world championship title to his kitty after he missed out in 1977 and had actually retired from the game in 1978.
In the 1978 All England final, King defeated Hartono 15-10, 15-3 in an astonishingly one-sided match. Many experts reckoned that Hartono was following a diktat of the Indonesian federation to allow King to win his first major world title. Hartono, by then, had already won eight All England titles. There were many other matches during the 1980s and 1990s when the most peculiar results cropped up as top Indonesians or Chinese played teammates. Only recently — in March — there was talk that Lin Dan tanked his match at a major event in China to a fellow Chinese to ensure that player retained the World No 2 spot. There is also the case of Chen Jin’s walkover to P Kashyap in the Super Series this April, just 30 mins before his match citing a swollen wrist. That walkover came after Denmark’s Peter Gade lost and that loss meant Chen Jin would still be ranked fourth even if he lost to Kashyap and would automatically qualify for London.
The writer is a former India player