Badminton as an Olympic Sport05 August, 2016
"When will Badminton be included officially in the Olympic Games?" is a question which has been on thousands of lips for a few years now.
Unfortunately, one cannot give an answer to that yet. One can only say that quite strenuous efforts have been made for some considerable time to achieve that objective, not only by the International Badminton Federation (I.B.F.) but also by the Canadian Badminton Association, most particularly because the next Olympics, to be held in 1976, will be at Montreal. What more suitable country could there be than Canada for Badminton's Olympic start?
In 1972 the I.B.F. got as far as to be permitted to put on a Demonstration Tournament in the Munich Olympics, and this was largely pretty successful, though the press did not take much notice of it as it was not an official event qualifying for medals. The demonstration did however, do something more to bring the game to the notice of the International Olympic Committee which is the body responsible for selecting and approving the various sports to make up the entire Olympic programme. There can be no doubt at all that Badminton is now thoroughly well qualified to be included in the Olympic programme, for which there are a few major necessities, such as worldwide popularity and respect for the amateur code. Badminton passes all these requirements and is furthermore a sport which calls for little additional promotional expense, as is the case with a number of sports already recognised and included.
A Profitable Venture - Indeed, it would be quite fair to suggest that the inclusion of Badminton would be a profitable venture for the host nation, and particularly so as all travelling and living expenses of competitors are defrayed by the different national Olympic committees which send these competitors. And, in contrast to this, it is the host country which retains all the gate money from spectators. It is true that the Olympic city concerned has to provide all the amenities and equipment, but that bill should be easily recoverable from the gate and other receipts.
But the problem of gaining inclusion is not so much a financial one. It seems that the growing views of the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) are that the number of sports now included are too many, and that therefore some reduction must be made. It would be hard if Badminton was made to suffer because of this, and particularly so because our sport does. without any question, have a larger worldwide appeal than do quite a few others which have for some time been included.
Furthermore, the original intention of the Olympic Games was surely to honour the best individual performers in any sport. This clearly means that the sports should be those where individual prowess is recognised in contrast to those sports which by their very nature are team games.
Certainly, Badminton can be a team game, as for instance the contest for the Thomas Cup, but even here the result is arrived at by the achievement of individual players in their various individual matches.
If Badminton becomes included in the Olympic Games, the method of competition for the medals will clearly be through the organisation of a tournament comprising the five different events of the game, and it is in this way that Badminton is included in the British Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and South East Asia Peninsular Games amongst others. In the European Badminton Championships and the Asian Badminton Championships, both of which are run by the appropriate continental Badminton organisations, the method is the same, though in both there are, additionally, team matches as well, the object of which is to provide the competitors with a little more play than is possible in only a tournament pure and simple.
Commonwealth Games Conditions - In the Commonwealth Games, where there are only individual events, conditions of entry stipulate that a nation may be represented by a maximum of five men and five ladies. from amongst whom four of each sex may be entered in singles, two pairs in men's and ladies' doubles and four pairs in mixed doubles. When Badminton was first included in the Commonwealth Games the entry was limited to four players of each sex with the same stipulation, but the Commonwealth Games Federation, a body composed of representatives of all Commonwealth countries, later agreed that a fifth player of each sex be permitted,so that in the event of any injury to a player there would be a substitute available to take his place, and thus not also prevent a fit player from playing doubles.The inclusion of a fifth player also allows a little more latitude in the selection of pairs in the doubles events. This worked very well at Edinburgh in 1970 and will doubtless do so again at Christchurch in a year's time.
In just the same way that a country's Commonwealth Games Council pays all the expenses of its competitors, so it is in the Olympics, and thus no direct financial expense requires to be met by the national Badminton organisation. This is of course most helpful to the latter, though it goes without saying that the Badminton authorities would have to help raise the money from the public and from its clubs and players. But this is no hardship, particularly as all would obviously like to be represented on court. The only disadvantage perhaps is that this method of financial organisation does permit the national Games Council to lay down how many competitors in each sport should be sent, and this is invariably dictated by the likelihood of success or otherwise. In other words, a country possessing a host of first class cyclists,for instance, and having only a second class standard in Badminton, will do the obvious in accordance with the amount of money at its disposal. However, one may be sure that in any Olympic Games Badminton tournament there would be at least forty countries represented on court, and this would certainly provide for the biggest international Badminton tournament-insofar as the number o.f countries was concerned -of all time. One can thus visualise a men's singles entry of between 80 and 100 players,about 60 in the ladies' singles, and the doubles events pro rata.
We should probably need six days of play and about six courts would be enough, with play proceeding all day on the first three days. The number of umpires and linesmen to be organised requires to be imagined,for one could hardly expect them to be continually on duty. The biggest organisation of this sort is probably the All-England Championships where some fifty umpires and 200 linesmen get mobilised during the four days of play in the tournament proper, while quite a number of them also officiate in the preceding two-day qualifying rounds.
But these are refinements which would, one may be sure, be possible, particularly in such an enthusiastic Badminton country as Canada.
First, however, we must get our game into the Olympics. It should certainly arrive there one day because the game continues to grow in popularity all over the world, and sometimes in the most unexpected places. Montreal would be a Heaven-sent start, and one can easily imagine that the demand for spectators' seats would be such as to tax any hall to the limit.
-- By Editor H.A.E. Scheele, World Badminton, Mar 1973