The latest example took place last weekend at the Li-Ning Singapore Open, where China's Lin Dan, aka "Super Dan," withdrew from the final citing a stomach virus. What good fortune for China's badminton delegation — that stomach virus handed Chen Jin the win by forfeit and his first-place finish will improve his seed for the London 2012 Olympics. Olympic gold medalist Lin was booed by Singapore Indoor Stadium's crowd of more than 7,000, who didn't get the show they paid for.
It's not doing any good for China's reputation in the sports world, which already has the taint of poor sportsmanship from gymasts and footballers who are younger than they say they are, and basketball players who are older. It's not good for badminton, which may never be taken seriously as a sport in the United States, and is losing ground to basketball and football in China. And it can't be good for Li-Ning, the sponsor of the Singapore Open, the Chinese team, and of Lin himself.
The Chinese team are hearing it from the badminton press, who are skeptical that Lin was sick, although they concede that the decision to withdraw probably did not rest with him, but with a coach or team leader. BadZine.com editor-in-chief Raphael Sachetat wrote an insightful editorial on the topic earlier this week (No show: is that promotion?), which includes some great detail and background information on the situation. And something else Sachetat wrote more than two years ago seems to still be relevant in the badminton world: "If only Chinese badminton benefits from its own growth, the sport might simply be taken out of the Olympic program someday. Sponsors will then vanish and the little money coming in will be gone for a while. That's what is called shooting oneself in the foot…" (China out of SS finals: shooting itself in the foot).
While China's "strategy" is an openly criticized secret, it doesn't seem to draw the attention that matters most — that of the Badminton World Federation, which seem unable or unwilling to investigate the behavior for the standard-bearers of its sport.
Tags: badminton, Lin Dan
Life isn't getting any easier for Chinese football fans. Despite playing in Shanghai against a team whose country's population is less than a fifth of Shanghai's, China's men's Olympic team lost its London 2012 qualifier to Oman, 1-0. (Oman humiliates China in Shanghai — China Daily) The Chinese team gets another shot Thursday, this time in the scorching summer sun of Oman. China's women's team is usually a bright spot in the country's football program, but they failed to qualify for the 2011 Women's World Cup, which starts next week in Germany.
Yao Ming: "I do not dare say I am optimistic right now."
After saying a few weeks ago that he badly wants his daughter to see him play in the NBA, Yao Ming seems to be preparing his fans and his team for the likelihood that his playing days are over. Speculation about the big man's retirement has been building since after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, when he managed to recover from a foot fracture to compete. Despite Houston's strategy last season of limiting his playing time to less than half of each game, he didn't even make it through November. Yao's contract expires June 30 – don't be surprised if you see the Houston Rockets select a center with the 12th pich in the NBA Draft Thursday night in Newark.
Action sports' prospects in China
We're a little late to share this with you, but it's still relevant. Thoughtful China, a new weekly online show from branded content creator Thoughtful Media dedicated to analysis of Chinese business news and trends, recently did a piece on action sports. Coming on the heel of the Kia XGames Asia, held in Shanghai for the fifth time, the show looks at the growth of these sports here, through the eyes of some figures in China's sports business world. Appearing on the show are Harvey Davis, ESPN's vice president of event management; Chien Hwang, executive creative director at TBWA China; and Eric Lai, sports marketing manager, China at Converse. Perhaps the best observation on the show comes from Hwang, who notes that brands that help foster the growth of a sport in China will see a much bigger return than those that wait for a sport to catch on before investing in it.
To watch from inside China, here's the GFW-friendly link
To watch from outside China, here's the Youtube-friendly link
Tags: action sports, football, Kia XGames, NBA, soccer, Yao Ming