LONDON: Thomas Lund, General Secretary of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has labelled the Olympic match-fixing incident, which saw eight players intentionally attempt to lose a game to ensure a more favourable draw in the next round, as a ‘hiccup’.
The controversy reflected badly on the sport, its officials and players but the BWF is confident that the action to disqualify the guilty athletes will ensure that those contemplating picking up a racket will not be deterred.
“Our disciplinary committee went in and sent out a strong message that this is not acceptable,” said Lund. “This sent a message to the youth of the world that this is not our sport. The world understands very well that this is not acceptable in our sport. We may have had some players that did not figure it out, but they are responsible and have been punished.”
Although the former player does admit to understanding the actions and emotions of the eight competitors to a certain extent, he insisted that the decision to disqualify the athletes was indeed the correct one.
He said: “I really have big sympathy for the eight players, in terms of them having practised for so many years to get here. But, this is more than just about the individuals; it is about how to act within the framework of the sport.”
The actions of the disqualified athletes have been linked to the unpopular group stage format but Lund believes the current setup will help create memorable moments and will overall prove to be beneficial to the sport. He enthused: “It has brought a much better story telling opportunity. Before, a player would go on vacation after the first match, but now most players get at least two games and an extended career as an Olympian, which is hugely valuable.
The exposure the system has given to the sport is tremendous. Group play has definitely been extremely good. People will probably remember the little hiccup, but there are so many positives we can take out of this.”
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