Olympics 2012 Badminton Controversy: Eight Players Charged Over 'Thrown' Matches

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Aug 01, 2012 03:28 AM EDT
Badminton players
Match referee Thorsten Berg warns the players from China and South Korea(Photo : Reuters) "

 

A day after controversy broke in the swimming pool, it was Badminton's turn with the Badminton World Federation charging eight players with throwing matches, after a sorry spectacle saw the athletes being booed by the crowds.

The governing charged four pairs of female Olympic doubles players, two from South Korea, one from China and one from Indonesia, for "not using one's best efforts to win a match".

In an apparent ruse to manipulate the draw, the players kept hitting the shuttle wide or serving into the net.

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At the Wembley Arena, fans booed the match between the Chinese pair of Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli and South Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na. The longest rally of the first game was just four shots, with rallies generally in the sport easily going into double figures.

The match referee Thorsten Berg, at one point, was forced to come onto the court and warn both sets of players. South Korea won the match 21-14, 21-11, with both teams already qualifying for the quarter-finals.

If the Chinese pair, seeded one, had won the match, they would have met their compatriots Tian Quing and Zhao Yunlei before the final; however, with the loss, rather conveniently, they ensured they can only meet each other in the gold-medal round.

"The Chinese started this," an infuriated Korea coach Sung Han-kook said. "They did it first. It's a complicated thing with the draws. They didn't want to meet each other in the semi-final; they don't want that to happen.

"They (BWF) should do something about that."

Yu, however, defended her team's tactics, saying they were just preserving energy for the knockout rounds. "Actually these opponents really were strong," the Chinese insisted. "This is the first time we've played them and tomorrow it's the knockout rounds, so we've already qualified and we wanted to have more energy for the knockout rounds."

If everyone thought the drama was over, they were in for a surprise when similar scenes arose at a later match between South Korean third seeds Ha Jung-Eun and Kim Min-Jung and Indonesian pair Meiliana Juahari and Greysia Polii, both of whom, of course, had already qualified for the knockout stages.

Referee Berg, clearly shocked by the events, again had to step out on court, and even brandished a black card, which signals disqualification. However, after the Indonesian players protested, the match was resumed.

The winners of the group will face Wang and Yu, while the second-placed team will take on the other Korean pair Jung and Kim Ha-Na.

The Ha and Kim Min-Jung won the match in three games, but refused to make any comment, before walking off the court.

"I don't know what happened," Polii told reporters. "If that's the game, we have to accept all the things.

"Either they want to trust us -- we play bad or we play good. Our control is only to play as good as we can."

Paisan Rangsikitpho, a member of the Badminton World Federation's technical committee, said he would have to get all the facts straight before commenting on the situation. "We will have a real discussion tonight to see what has happened, but I have to get all the facts."

The State-run Xinhua News Agency in China cited an unnamed spokesman for the Chinese delegation in London as saying the team was taking the incident seriously.

"The Chinese delegation will handle this case according to the results of the investigation into this match," the spokesman said.

Bulgarian badminton player Petya Nedelcheva said China were the ones who controlled the sport. "China control everything," she said. "I don't know who controlled the match to lose but if it is China again, they did it so many times last year, they didn't play against each other in 20 matches. They do what they want."

Former Great Britain silver medallist Gail Emms was furious with the farcical events. "I'm furious. It is very embarrassing for our sport," Emms told the BBC.

"This is the Olympic Games. If badminton wants to save face they should disqualify the two pairs and reinstate the pairs that came third in the group.

"This is something that is not acceptable. The crowd paid good money to watch two matches."

 

 

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