Official’s Whistle – To mop, or not to rest?

This edition of the Official’s Whistle comes in the form of a response to a comment on Badzine from a reader in China, on the topic of play stoppage for court mopping.

By Michaela Bencova, Badzine Special Columnist.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

Question: What a pity that Wang Xin was heavily injured in the Bronze Medal Match of the London 2012 women’s singles.  Reading articles in the Chinese media, we found that it seems you strictly obeyed the BWF regulations and paid not so much attention to the human nature requirements to mop the court when it’s necessary.  As we fans all know, you’re a top class umpire and you had never let this happen.  Thus, we send you this mail and would like to hear what the real situation is there.  Looking forward to hearing from you soon.  Ye Peisong from Shanghai, China.

Answer from Michaela Bencova: Dear Peisong, when I started to write for Badzine, I was supposed to answer the questions, explain the rules, laws and situations on court, etc. so your question, or comment, fits that mission perfectly.

Because I don’t speak Chinese, I didn’t find any articles in the Chinese media as you describe so my reply is only relying on your information and I would like to explain inaccuracies in what you seem to be describing.

First, you write that I ‘strictly obeyed the BWF regulations’.  It is puzzling to consider how I am supposed to have done that since in that match I was the service judge.  That means that my role was the control of correct services and the changing of the shuttles when the umpire allows that, perhaps also assist the umpire if necessary because we are a team on court.  But this is minor information.

Second, if I were to rephrase what you wrote as “the umpire strictly obeyed the BWF regulations and paid not so much attention to the human nature requirements to mop the court when it’s necessary”, then my answer would be that umpire was strictly following the BWF regulations.

Law 16.4.1 says that Under no circumstances shall play be delayed to enable a player to recover strength or wind or to receive advice. The score was 18-12 for Wang Xin and after Wang won 2 points with difficulty and Saina Nehwal won 6 points easily, the score was 20-18.  Even on the video, it is possible to see that Wang Xin is breathing hard and is not getting ready as fast as Saina Nehwal.

There was nothing to see on court – no sweat – neither the umpire nor the service judge saw anything there and simply trying to mop the court after losing two or more points is simply taken by all umpires as an attempt to delay the game, to try to get the opponent off their rhythm.  On the video, you can see that Wang Xin is on the back line after a long rally so it has nothing to do with a wet middle part of court which she wanted to mop.

So to put it simply, I feel sorry for Wang Xin that she sustained that injury but nobody can be blamed for that.  Actually personally I believe she already had a small problem with her knee before because normally players do not come to court with a professional bandage as Wang Xin had.  It was just a bad accident that her knee didn’t survive the pressure during the long matches of the Olympic tournament.  So that is my explanation about the situation that happened on court.

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