Who knew? Badminton – that backyard game we always love to drag out of the closet at summer holidays – has a code of conduct. More specifically, the Badminton World Federation has a code of conduct, and it pulled the proverbial (and literal) black card against four Olympic teams. The BWF ejected them from the London Games for violating the sections of the Code, which read, “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.” As a result, two women’s doubles teams from South Korea and one team each from China and Indonesia, are packing up for home. So what did they do? The teams played poorly because they wanted to take an early loss, which would place them in a more advantageous bracket against lesser opponents.
In other words, they cheated.
Let’s look back at those sections from the Player’s Code and do just a little wordsmithing. It could just as easily read: “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the business (or school, organization, institute, etc.).
Now, do you know what the Olympic Oath is? Do your own wordsmithing: “In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”
“Respecting and abiding.” Hmm. Even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has gotten involved, asking for further inquiry to know if coaches and team officials were involved. IOC spokesman Mark Adams called the incidents was “a shame,” saying the behavior goes against Olympic values.
Some will say that playing poorly, or at insufficiently to win against an opponent, isn’t cheating, but think about it. It’s taking undue advantage of the situation, not really that far afield from insider trading, discrimination, or even theft. What these teams did was to take something away from the Olympic spirit. Just look at the fans in attendance, who openly booed because they knew that the teams were working the system.
And just in case you were wondering, the BWF (remember, that’s the Badminton World Federation, the governing body of a sport that played in seriously competitive fashion around the world) has its own whistleblower system to allow confidential reporting of betting and bribery. Smashing!