Badminton Life

Third Party Line Judges to be Used for Olympic Competition

The global governing body for badminton is determined to avoid line judging controversies at the Olympic Games this month.

Because of this, Badminton World Federation has decided to introduce third-party linesmen for the badminton competition of the Olympic Games, which starts on August 9 at the Beijing University of Technology gymnasium.

This is the first time third-party linesmen will be used at a major event. This year, badminton has been marred by accusations of biased judging, or just plain poor quality line judges.

The most publicised case was at January's Korean Open in Seoul, where world number one accused local line judges of favouring home player Lee Hyun-il in the final.

Lee went on to beat Lin, who at one stage almost got into a fight with the local player's coach, Li Mao.

Ren Chunhui, executive vice director for Olympic badminton competition, was quoted in a Xinhua news report of saying that there will be 80 line judges at the 208 Olympic tournament, of which 70 have been selected from a pool of local Chinese officials.

The remaining 10 line judges are from overseas. These officials will be assigned to make calls at the baselines and sidelines for matches that take place between a non-Chinese player and a Chinese player.

Badminton has tried many ways of tackling so-called biased judging. The most recent major law was the introduction of the over-rule call by the chair umpire in 2006.

This allowed the chair umpire to overrule a call if he or she felt the line judge made a mistake. This is similar to system used in tennis.

However, this required host countries to bring in overseas line judges, which was difficult to do because of the costs involved.

Lack of funding also meant that technology was unable to help. The hawk-eye line-calling system successfully implemented in tennis proved too expensive for badminton tournaments to use it on a regular basis.

Eariler this year, BWF sports committee chair Anne Smillie said controversial incidents over line calls were "damaging the image of our sport and undermines confidence in the results".

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