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A complete history of badminton in the Olympics

The history of badminton in the Olympics dates back to 1992 when it was introduced as an exhibition sport during the 24th Olympiad in Barcelona. It became a full medal sport during the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta and has been played consistently since then. It’s no surprise that badminton was added to the games, though, because the game has been played for more than 2,000 years, with ancient records indicating that it was even played on the steps of China’s Great Wall!



history of badminton in the Olympics
history of badminton in the Olympics

Badminton Before it Came to the Olympics

Badminton was first introduced at the 1900 Paris Olympic Games as a demonstration sport, and it became an official Olympic event at the 1992 Summer Games. Badminton is now one of only two sports that are played at both the summer and winter games (the other being curling).


Badminton in 1904

Badminton was first played at the Olympic Games in 1992, with mixed doubles and singles competitions held. The sport’s international governing body, the Badminton World Federation (BWF), was admitted into the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as an associated member on 10 July 2001.


Badminton in London 1908

Badminton was first introduced at the 1908 London games. It was a demonstration sport that was not an Olympic discipline until 1992 when it became a full medal event.


Badminton at Amsterdam 1928

The first Olympic appearance for badminton was in Amsterdam in 1928. From this time onwards, there were always two individual events (for men and women) and one doubles event.v


Badminton at Berlin 1936

Badminton was first introduced to the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936. There were two events for men, one for women, and one for mixed doubles event. The players competed over five days. In total, there were 37 matches played. The gold medal match of men’s singles between Danish player Aksel Hoie and India’s Mohd. Ali Khan lasted a mere five minutes and 15 seconds with Hoie winning 11-3, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7; it remains the longest final match in Olympic badminton history!

history of badminton in the Olympics
history of badminton in the Olympics


Badminton at Paris 1948

This year, badminton will be making its debut at the Olympic Games. While it is a great honor for many players around the world, it is no surprise that this event has been a long time coming. In fact, badminton has been part of the Olympics since 1948 and has undergone several changes throughout its history.


Badminton at Tokyo 1964

The first ever Olympic Badminton Tournament was held in Tokyo in 1964. This game had only two events, singles and doubles. The winners were respectively Rudy Hartono from Indonesia and Margaret Varner from the United States.
The next time that this sport was featured on the Olympic program was in Seoul in 1988. There were five events, singles, doubles, mixed doubles, men’s doubles, and women’s doubles. The winners were respectively Hsieh Yu-Tzu from Taiwan for singles; Yang Yang for women’s singles; Joko Supriyanto and Susi Susanti for mixed doubles; Jaime Yzaga and Rosie Reyes for men’s doubles; Chen Yongkang and Gao Ling for women’s doubles.


Badminton at Mexico 1968

The inaugural Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896, included both tennis and a variant of badminton called Poona. The latter event, which consisted only of men’s singles matches, was won by a British Army officer named P.F. Thomas who went on to win gold again at Paris 1900. Thomas captained the English team at London in 1908 as well and was on hand for the final match between his countrymen and Denmark. The Danes won 21-14 with no time limit imposed by using a new rubber ball that could not be seen when it hit the ground.


Badminton at Munich 1972

The first badminton match was played at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games. It was an exhibition match, and it was played in front of a small crowd. The game ended with Jorgen Grunnet, who played on Denmark’s team, defeating Poul-Erik Nielsen.


Badminton at Montreal 1976

In 1976, badminton was first introduced as a demonstration sport at Montreal’s Summer Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had originally rejected the proposal for it to become an Olympic event, but after seeing how popular it became in Montreal they voted unanimously in favor of it.


Badminton at Moscow 1980

Badminton became an Olympic event in Moscow in 1980, with a men’s and women’s doubles event. The following year, it was added as a singles event for both genders.


Badminton at Los Angeles 1984

Badminton was first included in the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964. Four events were contested then: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles. The only event that remains is mixed doubles, which has been contested at every edition of the Games since then.


Badminton at Seoul 1988

The 1988 Summer Olympic Games were held from September 17-Oct to 2, 1988. Badminton was one of 26 sports contested. There were 126 men and 128 women for a total of 264 competitors with about 16 countries represented. The competition consisted of five events: men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.


China Takes Over The Olympic Scene At Barcelona 1992

China’s most dominant dynasty in the sport, Lin Dan and Wang Xiaoli, took over the Olympic competition at Barcelona in 1992. The two athletes won gold and bronze respectively in men’s singles while their female counterparts – Gong Ruina and Gu Jun – won gold and silver. Their dominance continued into Atlanta 1996 with men’s singles champion Lin Dan capturing another medal (silver) before leaving his countryman Wang Xiaoli on top of the podium with a gold medal.


The Rest of The World Gets Into The Action For Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, and Athens 2004. Beijing 2008 was marked by controversy. London 2012 saw China’s dominance continue. Rio 2016 saw the sport come under fire after being played on outside courts. Tokyo 2020 will be played on inside courts only. Can Indonesia win its first-ever gold medal? Will Denmark finally get a medal?


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