Eight badminton players from South Korea, China and Indonesia are disqualified from the Olympic doubles over match-fixing allegations.
South Korea appealed agains the disqualification, but lost. Indonesia withdrew its appeal. China did not appeal against the ruling, which also bans world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang.
The World Badminton Federation accused the eight women of “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” after the doubles pairs appeared to be throwing their games. They were charged under BWF’s players code of conduct sections 4.5 and 4.16.
The athletes who appealed against the ban are: South Korean pairs Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min Jung. They were scheduled to play their quarter-finals on Thursday night.
London 2012 Chairman Lord Coe called the apparent attempt to throw the matches as “depressing” and “unacceptable”.
“Who wants to sit through something like that?” asked Lord Coe, but LOCOG will not refund tickets for the matches.
Sung Han-kook, South Korea’s head coach, said his two pairings attempted to throw their matches against China’s world champions and the Indonesians in retaliation after the Chinese team instigated the situation.
He said the Chinese deliberately tried to throw the first of the tainted matches to ensure their leading duo of Yu and Wang would not meet the country’s number two pair until the gold medal decider.
The players were booed when serves appeared to be deliberately hit into the net or hit wide. Yu claimed the duo had wanted to preserve energy for the finals.
China “opposes any behaviour or acts which contravene this spirit or sports morality for any reason or in any form,” China’s state news agency Xinhua reported citing an unnamed spokesman. The Chinese delegation has launched its own investigation.
While there is no suggestion of betting associated with the badminton matches, it is certainly not the first time a top athlete has been accused of match fixing. Parkistani cricketers were found guilty of conspiring to cheat and accept corrupt payments in November. The first country cricketer in England to be prosecuted for spot-fixing was sentenced to four months in prison in February after pleading guilty to accepting a corrupt payment.
The farce started with Chinese top seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang seemingly showing no interest in beating their opponents to finish top of Group A. If the pair lost the match, that meant they would avoid playing second seeds Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei at least until the final.
While referee Thorsten Berg warned the players, the Koreans went on to win 21-14 21-11.
China’s coach Li Yongbo denied anything was amiss yesterday.
“This is nothing. It was just a game,” Li told Reuters before he chuckled and walked away.
Men’s singles world number one Lin Dan broke ranks with his Chinese badminton team today, saying ‘throwing’ tactics were not in the Olympic spirit. Lin, a national hero in China, criticised the BWF for instituting a system that was ripe for manipulation.
“I think it will definitely bring a negative impact, because all of these fans came to watch this tournament,” the 28-year-old told reporters at Wembley Arena.
“This situation really is not in the Olympic sporting spirit,” he said.