Olympics Badminton is organized so that a team can improve their odds of winning the tournament by losing the odd early match, which changes their seeding in the final rounds. Badminton rules also forbid “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.” If your best efforts to win a match reduce your chances of winning a medal, the players are in an impossible position under the first rule. Today, four teams were expelled for going for the medals as well as they could, even though they didn’t make the rules; in fact, it’s the organizers who should face punishment under the second provision above.
Whatever the rules are, and they have to be consistent, playing strategically rather than tactically is central to excellence in lots of sports and more. A sacrifice bunt in baseball, all kinds of tactics in bicycle and auto racing, and losing a piece on purpose in chess are part of those games and make them interesting. “Cannae” is military shorthand for a classic strategy in which a general tactically retreats the center so the enemy will advance to be flanked on both sides and lose the battle.
The players didn’t cheat; this isn’t like doping or putting a roll of nickels in a boxing glove. It’s the competition designers’ job to make rules in which the incentives for players at each stage match how they want the whole event to unfold. If motivating dogging early games is a problem, fix the rules, as the wise neighbor did when two farmers had each bet that he had the slowest horse and the race to settle it dragged on into the evening: “change horses!”