Badminton at the Olympics – A Timeline

Badminton is now well-entrenched as an Olympic sport, but it was a relatively new addition to the programme. When it was staged as a Demonstration Sport at the Munich Olympics in 1972, it was thought that badminton would quickly become an Olympic sport; however, a terrorist attack at the Games Village in 1972 quickly took the focus away from the introduction of new sports, and badminton had to bide its time. Its moment in the sun finally came in Barcelona 1992.

As the badminton community worldwide waits with bated breath for the action to start in Paris 2024, here’s a brief overview of its Olympic journey.

1972: Badminton is a Demonstration Sport at the Munich Olympic Games, with 25 invited players from 11 countries. It is held on a single day, 4 September 1972. The winners were Rudy Hartono (men’s singles), Noriko Nakayama (women’s singles), Ade Chandra/Christian Hadinata (men’s doubles) and Derek Talbot/Gillian Gilks (mixed doubles). There was no women’s doubles.

File photo of Rudy Hartono, men’s singles winner at Munich 1972

Despite the successful staging, the fallout of a terrorist attack at the Games Village in Munich delayed the introduction of new sports into the Olympic programme.

1982: IBF President Craig Reedie attends IOC Session in Rome and pushes for badminton’s inclusion with IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch during a private meeting, and invites the President to the next IBF World Championships.

1983: IOC President Samaranch attends the IBF World Championships in Copenhagen on semifinals and finals day and is impressed by the presentation of the sport and the quality of matches. Samaranch acknowledges that badminton deserves a spot on the Olympic programme.

IOC President Samaranch congratulates Craig Reedie, former IBF President, in 1985 on badminton’s inclusion in the Olympics.

1985: IOC Session in east Berlin witnesses badminton’s inclusion in the Olympic programme for 1992. A few days later, at the IBF World Championships in Calgary, the Olympic flag is presented to the IBF.

1988: Badminton is an exhibition sport at the Seoul Olympics.

1992: History is made as badminton makes its debut at the Olympic Games in Barcelona with four events: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles and women’s doubles. Badminton kicks off at the Olympics with a men’s singles match between Malaysia’s Foo Kok Keong and Norway’s Hans Sperre. After the very first rally, the shuttle is saved for eventual display at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

Susi Susanti, first badminton gold medallist at the Olympics

1996: Mixed doubles is added to the programme for the Atlanta Olympic Games; title honours split between Denmark, Korea, Indonesia and China.

2000: The Olympics is held in Sydney. Ge Fei/Gu Jun win the women’s doubles, becoming the first two-time Olympic champions in badminton. China assert dominance with four gold, while Indonesia’s traditional strength in men’s doubles remains unbreached.

2004: China’s Zhang Jun/Gao Ling defend their mixed doubles title. Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat and China’s Zhang Ning win singles.

Zhang Jun and Gao Ling defended their title in2004.

2008: The first Olympics to be held with the new scoring system of 21×3. Zhang Ning defends her women’s singles gold. China dominate their home Olympics with three gold; Indonesia and Korea take home a gold in men’s doubles and mixed doubles respectively.

2012: BWF takes tough decision to eject four pairs – two Korean, and one pair each from China and Indonesia — from the competition for not using best efforts in the group stage. Lin Dan defends men’s singles crown after a thrilling final. Zhao Yunlei becomes first player to win a double at an Olympics. China sweep all five gold medals.

2016: Increasing competitiveness in badminton reflected in spread of medals as no country wins more than one medal in each discipline. Carolina Marin makes history with first European gold in women’s singles; Japan win first gold through Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi.

Carolina Marin achieved glory for Spain.

2021: The 2020 Games is postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19. Despite fears, the Olympic Games is successfully delivered. Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin make history for Chinese Taipei with men’s doubles gold, while Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu win first women’s doubles gold for Indonesia.

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