Shi Yuqi Gets 1-Year Ban From Chinese Badminton Association

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We hope the Chinese Badminton Association would lift the one-year suspension on Shi Yuqi as soon as possible. (photo: Shi Tang/Getty Images)
We hope the Chinese Badminton Association would lift the one-year suspension on Shi Yuqi as soon as possible. (photo: Shi Tang/Getty Images)

Opinion Editorial:

With the 2022 Thomas Cup Finals entering a 2-day countdown, Zhang Jun, the president of the Chinese Badminton Association confirmed that China’s former World No. 2 men’s singles player – Shi Yuqi has been suspended from the Chinese national badminton team and was banned from participating in any international tournaments for one year.

Zhang said an internal committee has slapped Shi with 1-year suspension following his bizarre behavior by choosing to retire after trailing 5-20 against Kento Momota of Japan in the second set of the first men’s singles match in the 2020 Thomas Cup semi-finals tie between China and Japan.

Shi Yuqi and Momota Kento were actually fighting very fiercely in the first game before Shi lost to Momota 20-22. But in the second game, Shi fell behind quickly to 2-11, and at 5-20, Shi Yuqi proposed to the referee that he would like to retire because of paronychia. In reality, it was normal for athletes to retire due to an injury, but since it was the match point, many badminton fans took to social media to criticize Shi for the lack of sportsmanship.

After the match, when Shi was asked by a Danish reporter why he retired from the match, Shi replied with a very immature answer by saying: “Well if he is still at the 20th point, that means I didn’t lose.”

The next day, Shi Yuqi was spatting with fans criticizing him on his social media, he ended up posting a long post explaining the reason for his withdrawal was because he wanted to make Momota feel uncomfortable despite winning the match.

Perhaps Shi Yuqi’s behavior during the 2020 Thomas Cup semi-final undeniably lacked sportsmanship. Withdrawing at match point and then making flippant comments about his opponent’s victory reflects poorly on him and the sport. However, the year-long suspension handed down by the Chinese Badminton Association (CBA) seems too harsh of a punishment.

Lets be honest athletes tend to show their emotions. From tennis players, to soccer stars we’ve witnessed some outbursts. While its not the behavior these incidents usually lead to fines or short suspensions. Take Kevin Durant, a superstar in the NBA, who was fined a mere $25,000 for telling a fan to “shut the f*** up.”

In a recent interview with Chinese media, Zhang Jun explained why Shi was not selected for this year’s Thomas Cup.

“About Shi Yuqi, something not good happened in the semi-finals of the Thomas Cup last year, he withdrew from the match at match point. And after the match, he made some irresponsible and immature comments. Therefore, after an internal review by our coaches, we have decided to suspend him for a year,” said Zhang.

“He will not be competing at this year’s Thomas Cup. During the one-year suspension, we hope he could take the opportunity to perform self-reflection and look at his own problems and actions,” added Zhang.

“Hopefully he could find a solution to his mistakes and will be stronger and be a more competitive player when he re-join the national team,” explained Zhang.

(source: BadTalk)

Based on CBA’s logic – promoting self-reflection and helping Shi Yuqi mature – makes sense. However, being away from competition for a year could really affect Shi’s ranking and progress. Maybe there could be a better approach.

Maybe CBA could suspend Shi from the Chinese national team temporarily and performing community service would allow Shi to achieve the same goal without compromising his career.

Moreover losing Shi’s talent on the world stage is not only bad for him but also weakens China’s dominance in badminton. China is a powerhouse in badminton and Shi plays a crucial role in that legacy. Putting him on the sidelines would weaken China’s competitiveness.

There might be room for compromise though. Maybe Shi could serve a reduced term, attend training clinics, and prove his commitment to sportsmanship before rejoining the China national badminton team. This way he can learn from his mistakes while minimizing the impact, on China’s badminton reputation.

In the end, the aim is to nurture athletes not merely turn them into badminton robots. Shi should be given an opportunity to make amends and CBA also has a chance to showcase a more balanced approach to player development. Hopefully, they will explore a resolution that encourages both players’ growth and sustains China’s continued badminton excellence.

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