LONDON // Eight women badminton players were disqualified by the sport’s federation from the London Games competition after they tried to lose matches in a bid to secure a more favourable draw.
The four doubles teams– two from South Korea and one from China and Indonesia – were cited by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.”
“We have to be clear, there has been a problem here and we have to take that problem very seriously,” the BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said. “There are things we can improve on and look at after this competition.”
South Korea and Indonesia appealed the disqualification, but the BWF rejected the South Korean appeal and the Indonesia challenge was withdrawn. China accepted the federation’s decision.
“We applaud the federation for having taken … decisive action,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “Such behaviour is incompatible with the Olympic values.”
Before the decision was announced, the Indonesia Olympic team leader Erick Thohir accused Chinese players of losing on purpose in the past. “China has been doing this so many times and they never get sanctioned by the BWF,” Thohir said.”
The initial furore was sparked by the loss of China’s second seeds Tian and Zhao to Denmark’s Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen early on Tuesday.
The top seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang then tried to engineer defeat against Korea’s Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na to avoid finishing top of their group and going into the same half of the draw as their compatriots.
The Koreans responded by trying to lose themselves, and a second pair from their country, Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, took the retaliation further by failing to play properly against Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii. The Indonesians then began to employ similar tactics.
Beijing badminton silver medallist Gail Emms said the matches were embarrassing to watch.
“It was absolutely shocking,” she said. “The crowds were booing and chanting ‘Off, off, off’.”
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