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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 2nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Olympic Ideal Takes Beating in Badminton.

It is not strange at all what happened, people will tend to take advantage of bad rules – it is the best (or the richest in Romney’s case) that can take advantage of bad rules – it seems that the rules were skewed in their favor in the first place.

From material on the New York Times website –  August 1, 2012:

On Tuesday night at the London Games, some of the world’s best badminton players hit some of the sport’s worst shots. Sad serves into the net. Returns that sailed far wide. Howls from the crowd were loud and instant, and the calls for investigation immediate.

On Wednesday, four women’s doubles teams — two from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia — were disqualified. But the circumstances were complicated by the fact that the rules of the sport seemed to give the athletes an incentive to lose.

The eight players were found to have tried to lose their matches intentionally, apparently because they had determined that a loss would allow them to play a weaker opponent in the next round.

Badminton officials introduced a preliminary round at the Olympics this year so that each team could play at least three times and not risk traveling thousands of miles only to be eliminated in the first match. But athletes and coaches have always looked for any available advantage, including throwing a match to save energy or to face an easier opponent in the next round.

There was nothing subtle about how the four teams of players — all of whom had already qualified for the quarterfinals — performed Tuesday night. They repeatedly served into the net and hit shots well out of bounds. During one match, a Danish umpire took the drastic step of flashing a black card to warn the players that they could be thrown out.

The disqualifications threw the tournament into turmoil and prompted protests and calls for rule changes. Indonesia appealed the decision and then withdrew the appeal, while the South Koreans had their appeal denied after officials reviewed the matches, interviewed the umpires and spoke to the players.

The eight disciplined players, who were found to have not tried their best and to have conducted themselves “in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport,” had been scheduled to play Wednesday. After their sudden exits, they were replaced by women’s doubles teams from Australia, Canada, Russia and South Africa. No coaches or teams were penalized.

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Though rare, examples exist for cases in which a quirk of a sport’s rules or competition format has given an athlete or team an incentive to lose — or at least not try hard.

In a World Cup soccer match in 1982, West Germany and Austria appeared to stop trying after West Germany took a 1-0 lead early in the game. Both teams knew that such a result would allow them to advance. That prompted soccer officials to mandate that the final games in a round-robin group-play format must all be played at the same time so teams could not know the outcome of other important matches.

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The charges of match throwing have been biting, with teams from Western nations taking aim at their Asian counterparts, especially the Chinese.

Niels Nygaard, the president of the national Olympic committee in Denmark, which has some of the best badminton players in Europe, applauded the world federation’s decision and blamed the coaches, not the players, for the persistent match throwing.

“For me, it’s really a matter of principle whether things are done in a correct way,” Nygaard said after the announcement.

Still, the tactic of purposely losing has an inner logic that has been used in other sports like soccer and baseball.

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When Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang from China lost to the South Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na on Tuesday, they were trying to avoid playing the world’s second-ranked women’s pair of Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, from China. Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung of South Korea and Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii of Indonesia also tried to steer clear of high-level foes in the quarterfinals.

The Chinese did not appeal their suspension and defended their approach. “We would try hard in every match if they were elimination games,” Yu said. “Because they are group stage, that’s why we are conserving energy.”

Lin Dan, the top-ranked men’s singles player, stood by his Chinese teammates and blamed the federation for not anticipating that this strategy might be used. “Think in the U.K.: would your football team want to meet Spain in the first round?” he asked after winning a match on Wednesday. “Athletes think for themselves and would have their best interests at heart.”

“It’s perfectly legal but morally indefensible,” said John MacGloughlin, a Briton who has played club-level badminton for 30 years and paid almost $50 to attend Wednesday’s afternoon session. “At that level, you don’t do that.”

This being Britain, where a bet can be laid on practically any event, the question of whether the match was thrown for profit is reasonable. Kate Miller, a spokesman for William Hill, one of Britain’s largest betting companies, said her 200-person trading team did not spot any irregularities surrounding the match.

And badminton was not the only sport in which teams trotted through a preliminary-round game. On Tuesday, in Cardiff, Wales, the Japanese women’s soccer team, the 2011 World Cup champion, played to a scoreless tie against a much weaker South African side.

The tie, as opposed to a win, meant that the Japanese, who had already qualified for the knockout round, avoided having to travel to Glasgow to play France in the quarterfinals. Instead, they will remain in Cardiff and play Brazil.

Afterward, Norio Sasaki, Japan’s coach, said he put in substitutes and told them to keep possession of the ball. The players, he said, “were on the same page as me.”

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And back to peole like Mitt Romney, please see the latest “CHECK THE LAW” successful event in Washington:

The House and Senate voted to close a loophole in an insider trading law that could have allowed lawmakers’ family members to profit from inside information.   CNN uncovered and reported on the loophole last month.

The STOCK Act, one of the rare bipartisan bills passed this year, was signed by President Barack Obama in April.

Someone sneaked into law “the possibility to cheat by law” by telling your wife to buy stocks based on your inside information – how neat indeed!

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