Last week we saw the belated World Cup finals 2020 badminton season Also known as the World Tour Finals. Antonsen came as the 2020 World Championship Finalist. Given the impressive form of Victor Axelsen recently, there were many who were betting that he would take three out of three in Thailand. However, compatriot Anders Antonsen would not have defeated him in the finals – somewhat controversially.
There is no doubt that in the first and third match he overtook Viktor Axelsen. If those were the only two matches in the match, Antonsen was surely the more dominant of the two.
However, this was the second match in which the controversy took place. Having just won the first game 21-16, he lost the next game 21-5. And not because Victor Axelsen was in control, Antonsen threw the match, clearly. He even admitted it in a post-match interview with the Danish Media outlet TV2.
What is the problem?
Now I am not a fan of Viktor Axelsen crying about the loss of Victor. But I feel the way he lost was a little unfair, not to Victor – but to the viewers. This hurts sports, too. Not that this kind of thing happens often but there are certainly potential negative connotations.
On one side of the coin, one could argue that Antonsen was simply playing tactical. He went into the match knowing his limits and opponent very well. So he planned his playing strategy and executed it flawlessly – which clearly affected his opponent. His superior tactical awareness was his key to winning the gold medal. We have seen other players adopt this strategy in the past but maybe they are not as honest as this one.
On the other side of the coin, this can be considered completely unsportsmanlike. This is the biggest event at the end of the season. So fans expect every match to be highly competitive – especially the finals. Playing this way is almost an insult to the fans who want to watch these athletes perform at their best.
But regardless of whether you thought he was a tactical genius or a non-sporting genius, the truth is that he won. But herein lies the problem. The BWF They must be consistent in their application of the rules. What is the difference, for example, between the 2012 Olympics scandal and the World Tour Final?
During the Olympics – four pairs were kicked out of the tournament for only one player in this case. But that shouldn’t matter. The fact is that they were fired after a BWF review for “not using best efforts” and for “acting in a manner clearly abusive or harmful to the sport.” Now the second charge might be a little too severe in the Antonsen case, but the first charge is definitely workable.
Second, there was an audience at the Olympics. Spectators who were visibly and audibly upset by the performance of the women’s double pairs threw their toys. Perhaps the lack of an audience in Thailand meant that viewers’ frustrations were not clearly heard. Again whether the audience is present or not has to be relevant.
Does he deserve the title?
In short, yes. He beat Viktor Axelsen on the day in the first and third half. While his strategy was unconventional, it was well thought out and he clearly knew how to deal with his fellow countryman. So Antonsen deserves praise for his performance and even more so for his tactical awareness.
The problem does not arise from Antonsen. It originates from BWF. If they want to maintain their power, they need to make sure that the rules are consistently enforced. If not, it sets a precedent for this to continue in the future which could harm the sport in the long run.