LONDON – Eight female badminton doubles players were disqualified Wednesday from the London Olympics after trying to lose matches to receive a more favorable place in the tournament.
The Badminton World Federation announced its ruling after investigating two teams from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia. It punished them for “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” in matches Tuesday night.
“We applaud the federation for having taken swift and decisive action,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “Such behavior is incompatible with the Olympic values.”
Erick Thohir, the head of Indonesia’s Olympic team, said that the Indonesian team will appeal. The BWF said South Korea had also appealed.
The BWF said there would be quarterfinals in the women’s doubles, meaning at least one previously eliminated team would be placed into the last eight after the China team chose not to challenge its disqualification. The pairings would depend on the outcome of the appeals.
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. “On the first game yesterday when China did it, the BWF didn’t do anything. If the BWF do something on the first game and they say you are disqualified, it is a warning for everyone.”
IOC Vice President Craig Reedie, the former head of the international badminton federation, welcomed the decision.
“Sport is competitive,” Reedie said. “If you lose the competitive element, then the whole thing becomes a nonsense. You cannot allow a player to abuse the tournament like that, and not take firm action. So good on them.”
The eight disqualified players are world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China and their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, along with South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii.
The players went before a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, a day after spectators at the arena booed their performance after it became clear they were deliberately trying to lose.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge had been at the venue but had left shortly before the drama unfolded. The IOC said it would allow badminton’s ruling body to handle the matter.
Paul Deighton, chief executive officer of the London organizers, said there would be no refunds for the evening’s badminton program. Chairman Sebastian Coe called what happened “depressing,” adding “who wants to sit through something like that?”
Teams blamed the introduction of a round-robin stage rather than a straight knockout tournament as the main cause of the problem. The round-robin format can allow results to be manipulated to earn an easier matchup in the knockout round.
One of the world’s top male players, 2004 Olympic singles champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, called the situation a “circus match.” China’s Lin Dan, the Olympic men’s champion in singles, said through an interpreter the sport is going to be damaged.
“Especially for the audience,” he said before the disqualifications were announced. “This is definitely not within the Olympic spirit. But like I said before, it’s not one-sided. Whoever sets the rule should make it knockout so whoever doesn’t try will just leave the Games.” — AP