1 May 2022. 

A very eventful day.

It was the day when the new SOPs come into effect, including the fact that MySJ is now MySejarah - no need to scan the QR code to enter premises anymore. Yay! Long time coming since this feature has been a redundant one for a while now...

Then also, everyone was panicking since it was only announced at the 11th hour that Raya was to be celebrated one day earlier, on 2 May, instead of on 3 May. 

On to the next topic that I've been thinking of writing for a long time now, but never did until today.

It's about... badminton.

I've been following the Badminton Asia Championships (BAC) tournament the whole week and watching some matches here and there including all of the matches on the finals day. It was a huge tournament. How huge you wonder? The tournament is an S1000, which is equivalent to the All England Open level. And Lee Zii Jia clinched the title for Men's Singles. Nice.

Unfortunately, the tournament as a whole was a mess and there were plenty of controversies.

Lack of access to watch any of the courts throughout the whole tournament

Many fans were left disappointed that it wasn't possible to watch all of the matches during R32 or R16, there was just no such avenue at all as Badminton Asia was only streaming Court 3 on YouTube. On the contrary, Badminton Europe was streaming up to 4 courts at the early stages of the tournaments - that meant that fans could tune in to watch almost all of the matches that were being played. Badminton Asia began receiving flak on social media (including multiple low reviews left on their social media channels), and that was probably why they started streaming Court 2 on Instagram as well, in addition to Court 1 (TV viewing only) for quarter-final matches. The decision to stream Court 2 exclusively on IG only was odd - given that they could already stream Court 3 on YouTube already so why not Court 3 on YouTube as well? Or even better - let people choose and stream on both platforms. The IG stream was meh because if you're using a desktop it was a bad experience since the video was streamed in landscape and that means that users had to rotate their screen to watch properly.

Even then, fans still didn't get to watch the matches on Court 2 that day because... well, halfway through the streaming that day, Badminton Asia suddenly stopped streaming and put up a notice saying that they could not continue the "live streaming on Instagram and YouTube due to restrictions on media rights issues". It's not known what was negotiated in the TV rights contract, but it was utterly disappointing. You can see from the comments left on the post above, it didn't sit very well with the fans and... deservedly so as most were making the comparison with Badminton Europe. If all of Badminton Europe, Badminton Oceania, and Badminton Pam-Am can do it, why not Badminton Asia?

Standard of umpires

In the final XD (Mixed Doubles) match between Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong and Wang Lilyu/Huang Dongping the umpire seemed to be confused and it was apparent he did not know who's who. Wang even showed his back for the umpire to see the name that was written on his jersey. The umpire appeared to be embarrassed, and he probably should be. These four players are top players in the circuit with Zheng/Huang being the current World No. 2 while Wang/Huang are reigning Olympic champs. A little homework done for the match that he was officiating would be great...?

Just a day before, on the semi-final day, there was also the controversy involving PV Sindhu and Akane Yamaguchi. Sindhu won the first game and was leading at 14-11 in the second before the umpire punished her for allegedly taking too much time to serve. The umpire had given her a verbal warning before this to ask her to serve quicker. Sindhu protested against the decision saying that she was not delaying the serve but that her opponent was not ready to receive it. The tournament referee was called in for the dispute, but as we've seen in many other tournaments when such controversies happened, nothing could be done when an umpire has made the decision. Per the umpire's decision, a point was given to Yamaguchi, making the score 14-12. Sindhu never seemed to have recovered from that moment and went on to lose the game, then the match. She was probably still feeling aggrieved from the decision the next day as she was missing from the medals ceremony despite winning the bronze medal. All the other players who received the bronze medal from the other disciplines were present at the medals ceremony.

Ironically, Sindhu was also caught in another umpiring chaos in the quarter-final match against China's He Bing Jiao. In the third game of the match, there was confusion over the score and the match was halted for a good few minutes as the umpire, match officials, coaches, and players from both sides got involved to have their say. Eventually, both players settled with the score of 16-14 to Sindhu.  

Other instances for matches that I watched, where the umpire made a mistake and players had to point it out themselves:

  • Lee Zii Jia (LZJ) vs Weng Hong Yang (WHY) semi-final match. During the first game, LZJ was supposed to be 8-0 up but the umpire incorrectly gave the 1 point to WHY making it 7-1, and LZJ had to correct the umpire to rectify the mistake. 
  • Jonatan Christie vs Lee Zii Jia finals match. In the first game, Jonatan made a successful challenge to make it 6-8 but the umpire incorrectly announced that the challenge was unsuccessful before correcting it after Jonatan walked over to him about the score. 

I know umpires are probably human but as a fan of the sport, there are way too many umpiring drama incidents that I feel, have spoilt the game. Many more big events are coming up and I hope this will be improved. My number one wishlist is for badminton to be more accessible, and secondly, that there will be hawk-eye for all courts. 

And to end with one of my favourite moments from the tournament: