LONDON — In the Olympics you go where the story is, which is what brought me to Wembley Arena Saturday afternoon for the badminton women’s doubles gold-medal match.
Yes, badminton. The Great Scandal of London 2012 took place in the world of badminton, where last week eight players from three countries were sent home for failing to give their best efforts in a match; i.e. what you or I would call dumping.
It all had to do with avoidance. A surprise loss early in the competition meant that the natural order of things was disturbed, and by winning a match the victor would be playing an opponent deemed impregnable, specifically the No. 2-ranked Chinese team of Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei. Farcical matches ensued, embarrassing the Badminton World Federation and the London Olympics themselves.
The question before us on Saturday was simply this: Was it necessary? Were Tian and Zhao that superior, that unbeatable, that the chicanery, however ethically challenged it may have been, was necessary?
They did lose a match to Denmark after they had clinched their spot, which only goes to show that negative strategy in these events is something that will never go away. Conserving one’s energies for more important future encounters is a regular feature of international sport.
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