Badminton's world body has done well to eject eight players from the Olympics for not trying to win a match. The decision would not have been easy. For one thing, the players were from China, Korea and Indonesia, with expectations of success and heightened sensitivity to losing "face". For another, it may be debated whether playing to lose for an easier draw in the next round of competition is beyond the pale.
The trouble in the badminton women's doubles tournament occurred because a pair seeded second suffered an unexpected loss and the four pairs subsequently expelled had been trying to avoid meeting the second seeds in the next round. They included the top seeded pair.
To this end they reduced their matches to a farce, each pair tried to outdo their opponents with soft serves into or under the net. What is the difference, it may be asked, between this and a rower who does not try to win a heat but is content merely to qualify for the next round? Or "sandbagging" in any sport?
All the difference in the world. Tactics to conserve energy or confuse an opponent do not dishonour the spirit of sport, the performance of the expelled badminton players dishonoured it. Sporting people respect themselves, their opponents and their game. They know it is only a game but they also know it deserves their honest effort every time.