World badminton’s governing body has disqualified eight female Olympic doubles players for effectively ‘not trying hard enough’. The Badminton World Federation disciplined four pairs of players – from China, Indonesia and two from South Korea – after they reportedly wanted to lose to secure an easier draw.
The Badminton World Federation met this morning to discuss the case and decided to expel them from the remainder of the 2012 Olympic Games. A statement on the BWF website said that “all four pairs face charges of not using their best efforts to win a match and conducting themselves in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.” In two badminton matches played at London’s Wembley Arena yesterday people in the crowd booed at the four pairs who appeared to deliberately mishit the shuttlecocks and to serve deliberately into the net. All four pair had already made their through to the last aid and have been accused of wanting to lose to secure an easier match in the quarter finals. In a group match between China’s Yun Yang and Wang Xiaoli and the South Korea’s Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, it was reported they both played to lose in order to avoid a last aid match with China’s Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei. The longest rally lasted just four shots. The Chinese pair eventually lost the match which lasted 23 minutes. And they can now only face their compatriots in the final. Yun said that she and her teammate “wanted to preserve energy for the knockout match.” South Korea’s coach Sung Han-kook said that “the Chinese started it.” Emily Ryall is vice-chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association:
"When you think about the Olympic Charter, the Olympic spirit, you know, it does make a mockery of the sport if players aren’t trying their best. Part of the Olympic spirit is about ensuring there’s good competition. There’s an obligation for the players to make sure that they produce good competition. You have to take it seriously. You have to play to win. You have to do your best. It just became fiasco. We’re very-very disappointed cause it’s not what you expect the Olympics to be about".
Head of the London Organizing Committee Lord Sebastian Coe said “the behavior was unacceptable”:
"Depressing! I mean, who wants to sit through something like that? Yesterday I actually saw British competitor narrowly failed to progress, but the Games were incredibly competitive in front of really large enthusiastic audience. This is unacceptable. I mean, I know the Badminton Federation very well. They will take it very seriously".
Meanwhile South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and the Indonesian pair of Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii also face similar charges from the Badminton World Federation following their final group match. The players were seen frequently serving into the net or outside of baselines. Match referee Thorsten Berg came on to the court issuing the black card to both pairs signaling their disqualification. However, after the Indonesians protested, this decision was rescinded and the match resumed. Emily Ryall says that even if these pairs were trying to be tactical in their play, it’s not sportsman-like:
"I suppose, to certain extent, you can understand even if you can’t condone it. I think the difference really is though that it’s the Olympic Games, the audience and expectators are there to see good badminton, they were playing to lose. Because you have to take sport seriously whatever level".
The Chinese Olympic Sports Delegation also launched an investigation saying it “opposed any behavior which violated sporting spirit and morality”, according to state media. Indonesia and South Korea have appealed against the disqualification and the decision is expected to be made before this evening’s quarter finals at 7 o’clock.