Host City: Barcelona, Spain
Date Started: July 28, 1992
Date Finished: August 4, 1992
Participants: 177 (93 men and 84 women) from 36 countries
Youngest Participant: Esther Sanz (17 years, 235 days)
Oldest Participant: Stefan Frey (33 years, 74 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 24 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): Indonesia and China (5 medals)
Evidence of games similar to badminton can be traced to the 1st century B.C.E. in China. A similar game was popular in England by the 14th century, called battledore shuttlecock, in which a shuttlecock was hit with a racket or a paddle. The modern origins of badminton date from the 19th century when it was developed in India, with British soldiers formulating many of the rules and spreading them throughout the British Empire. The original name of the game was Poona, the name of the town in India in which it was first popularized. Badminton became very popular in England after it was demonstrated in 1873 at a party given by the Duke of Beaufort at his country estate, “Badminton” in Gloucestershire – hence the name.
The International Badminton Federation (IBF) was formed in 1934 in England and still has its headquarters in Gloucestershire. The IBF instituted World Championships beginning only in 1977. Prior to that time the most important tournament in the world was the All-England Open Championships, first held in 1899, which continues to be very important. The dominant nations in badminton are Asian, with Indonesia having won the most World Team Championships for men (Thomas Cup), and China winning the most women’s World Team Championship (Uber Cup). Badminton is the national sport in Indonesia and Malaysia, and the greatest player in the pre-Olympic era was considered Indonesia’s Rudy Hartono.
Badminton was contested as a demonstration sport at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, in which the men’s singles was won by Hartono, but it débuted at the Olympics as a full medal sport in 1992. After 1972 it was not again a demonstration sport until its appearance at Barcelona on the medal program. That was an unusual mode of entry into the Olympics in the era of demonstration sports. With table tennis coming onto the Olympic Program in 1988 and badminton in 1992, this was a move away from the usual Euro- and Anglo-centric sports program at the Olympics. The biggest surprise of badminton in Barcelona is that China won no gold medals, after winning three titles at the 1991 World Championships.