Blinded by gold in London

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Blinded by gold in London

It is a disgrace for all Koreans that four female members of the Olympic badminton team had to be disqualified over charges that they intentionally lost a pair of doubles matches.

In one of the worst-ever violations of the Olympic spirit, eight women badminton players - two Chinese and two Indonesians in addition to the Koreans - were sent home by the World Badminton Federation, accused of “not using one’s best efforts to win a match.” In what amounts to brazen match fixing, the four teams tried to lose their matches to avoid strong competitors or have better medal-round matchups later.

A good deal of the attraction of sports can be attributed to unpredictable outcomes and a spirit of fair play. That’s why spectators glow with enthusiasm while watching the Games. There can be no excuse for failing to do your best. The behavior of the badminton players is not only a blot on the London Games, but on their country as well. Their dishonest play has dismayed and betrayed tens of millions of Koreans who spend sleepless nights to cheer for them.

It is time for the Korean players and coaches involved in the scam to repent and sincerely apologize. They should not make excuses for their actions. Patriotic passion to honor one’s country can never justify cheating. An Olympic medal is worth something only when it is fairly won. In sports, each step of the path is more meaningful than the end result. American sportswriter Grantland Rice once wrote, “It’s not if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Korea’s sports leaders must do some serious soul searching over what happened in London. They must stop to consider if they were blinded by gold in their quest for medals.

The Olympic fiasco will no doubt have an impact on the values of our young generation. Every coach and teacher in the country must make sure students learn the valuable lessons from the unfathomable blunder.

The father of the modern Olympic movement, French Baron Pierre de Coubertin, defined the Olympic spirit as a collection of friendship, solidarity and fair play. After the despicable events in London, athletes, coaches and managers of all kinds of sports in Korea must remember the genuine meaning of the Olympic spirit and sportsmanship.

We hope all Korean athletes will keep that in mind for the remainder of the London Olympic Games.

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