The signs were there but BWF chose to ignore them
THE Badminton World Federation (BWF), and not the teams whose players were kicked out of the Olympics for match-manipulation, was the one under tremendous media pressure at the Wembley Arena on Wednesday.
The BWF held two press conferences at the media centre -- the first a no questions announcement that the four pairs had been disqualified and the second which stated that the appeals by South Korea and Indonesia to have their pairs reinstated had been rejected.
The second was where the floor was opened to the international media and for almost an hour, BWF officials were grilled with the key question being was badminton in danger of being kicked out, just as the players had been, of the Olympics.
The official stance was that badminton was safe and the International Olympic Committee also issued a statement supporting BWF's decision as the players had gone against the Olympic charter and values.
Privately, the BWF has to be extremely worried as there continues to be murmurs that badminton, which only made its Olympics debut in 1992, is not safe as several other sports -- squash included -- lobby to be included into the Games. For that to happen, a sport has to be kicked out first and the last thing the BWF needed was a scandal of this sort at the highest stage.
Though the Kuala Lumpur-based BWF was lauded for taking firm action, it has to share a portion of the blame for allowing this to happen.
China had been manipulating results in the Super Series for years now but despite warnings that the measures in place to check this were not enough, the BWF failed to act.
The four pairs -- two from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia -- were disqualified under the BWF's code of conduct for players but had similar action been taken much earlier, badminton would not have had suffered the blow it received at the Olympics.
China's success had led to it doing as it pleased and some felt that BWF was "scared" to take action against them but now that the governing body has come down hard, it must ensure that match-manipulation doesn't resurface once the season resumes after the Olympics.
The match-manipulators are just a handful of BWF affiliates so the others must unite to stop their sport from being tarnished further.
As for Malaysia, an Olympic badminton gold had better come soon for if the manipulators continue to do as they wish, the sport will surely be kicked out of the Olympics and very few will sympathise. Just ask the fans who paid hundreds of ringgit to watch the women's doubles farce on Tuesday.