GUANGZHOU, China (AFP) — A minute's silence was held at the Sudirman Cup Tuesday in remembrance of the victims of last year's earthquake in China, before the hosts marked the occasion with a badminton master class.
China's 5-0 mauling of Japan's inexperienced side in the mixed team championships here was the perfect way to pay respect to the 87,000 dead or missing from the Sichuan quake one year ago.
In the other elite tie of the evening, South Korea beat Denmark to confirm that, along with Indonesia, they have what it takes to at least make China work hard for what would be their seventh Sudirman Cup triumph.
China's head coach Li Yongbo said afterwards it was important to separate sport from last year's devastation and that his players needed no added incentive to win for their country.
"Before the match we had a brief ceremony. I think this is what we need to do more often. Of course, the Chinese badminton team has given a lot of help to the victims, but we need a long-term effort in this," Li said.
"We did what we could, but this has nothing to do with the match or today's performance," he added, proclaiming himself "very satisfied" with the victory.
With the tournament going to form so far, it is difficult to see anyone else but holders China lifting the trophy Sunday at the Guangzhou Gymnasium, especially with the vocal home support firmly behind them.
World number three and Chinese idol Lin Dan was in typically extravagant form in easily beating Sho Sasaki, at one point returning a shot while he had both knees planted on the floor.