RIO DE JANEIRO: It was painful to watch.
World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei against world No. 318 Soren Opti of Suriname in the Olympics – once touted as a gathering of the world’s best.
Not any more.
Chong Wei never had to push beyond the first gear as he strolled to a 21-2, 21-3 win.
The crowd tried to rally round poor Opti, but it was clear he didn’t have the skills or expertise to create a shock.
The 19-year-old was overawed by the occasion, sending the shuttlecock out most of the time.
I believe many of our juniors would have beaten him.
Interestingly, it was a clash of the flag bearers – with Chong Wei for Malaysia and Opti for Suriname.
Suriname is not a superpower in badminton. But at least it has an Olympic gold compared to Malaysia.
Anthony Nesty won Suriname’s only Olympic gold when he triumphed in the men’s 100m butterfly in Seoul in 1988. He also won a bronze in the same event at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
The Olympics should have the best players on show. It was in the past for badminton, when it was played as a medal sport at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
In Rio de Janeiro, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded three places – known as the Tripartite Commission Invitation – to Opti, Jaspar Woon of Brunei and Niluka Karunaratne of Sri Lanka in a bid to ensure maximum global representation.
While it was noble of IOC to do so, they are not doing the Badminton World Federation (BWF) a big favour.
Showing a no-fight and no-quality match on television worldwide is not a good advertisement for badminton.
It’s a big turn-off, really.
You won’t find FIFA inviting a non-qualifier to play in the World Cup Finals. It would have devalued the tournament.
Hopefully, the IOC will rethink their decision and only bring the best to the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Note: Opti had his 15 minutes of fame. He was interviewed by TV stations after the match.