The brief sketch given below outlines badminton’s attempts to become an Olympic sport; the challenges it faced; its debut as an Olympic sport in Barcelona 1992, and subsequent developments.
It was only in the mid-1960s that efforts were made to include badminton on the Olympic programme. When badminton was made a demonstration sport at the Munich Olympics in 1972, there was expectation all round that the Olympic stage was not too far off. The demonstration event was held on 4 September on two courts in a volleyball hall. Over 3000 spectators enjoyed the action on the single day it was played. The use of electronic scoreboards was a pointer of things to come.
Twenty-five players from 11 member associations participated; Indonesia’s Rudy Hartono and Japan’s Noriko Nakayama (née Takagi) won the singles titles, while Ade Chandra/ Christian Hadinata (Indonesia – Men’s Doubles) and Derek Talbot/Gillian Gilks (England) won the Mixed Doubles. There was no Women’s Doubles.
From then on, however, progress stalled as a sensitive political issue rose to the forefront. A parallel body called World Badminton Federation was formed on 24 February 1978; 13 Asian and six African associations became part of the breakaway group. The split of the IBF derailed its ambitions for badminton in the Olympics.
Efforts at rapprochement were made from both sides. On 26 May 1981 a ‘Deed of Unification’ was signed in Tokyo by IBF and WBF.
The reunification of the world body reignited its Olympic hopes. IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch attended the IBF World Championships in 1983; the event produced some exhilarating displays of badminton and so impressed Samaranch that he was convinced badminton had a place in the Olympic programme.
The long-sought moment came at 5:45 pm on 5 June 1985 at the 90th IOC Session. Badminton was unanimously included for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics; also, it would be played as an exhibition sport in the Seoul Olympic Games of 1988. The IOC flag was presented to the IBF at the World Championships in Calgary.