Badminton doubles descend into farce as Chinese and South Koreans try to lose  
Published on 01/08/2012     Source : Heraldsun

Eight women badminton players were charged by the sport's governing body today with "not using one's best efforts to win a match" after two matches at the Olympics ended in controversy.

Four pairs in the women's doubles competition - one from China, one from Indonesia and two from South Korea - could face disciplinary action after the Badminton World Federation took action.

In scenes of confusion at Wembley Arena on Tuesday, the players in two matches were booed off court after they appeared to deliberately serve into the net, or hit the shuttlecock long or wide.

It appeared to be an attempt to manipulate the final standings in the first-round group stage with two pairs who had already qualified from the group stage jockeying to play against weaker opponents.

London's MailOnline said the women's doubles competition had descended into farce and scandal as four pairs deliberately started playing to lose.

Gail Emms, an Olympic silver medallist in 2004, was watching in the arena.

She said: "It was a disgrace. We had four pairs on court trying to lose ... very un-Olympic spirit.

"I'm furious. It is very embarrassing for our sport."

The actions of the players appeared to be an attempt to manipulate the final standings in the first-round group stage.

All four had already qualified for the last eight but top spots were still to be settled.

Four of the eight players involved were shown the black card of disqualification by the tournament referee at one point, but this was rescinded on protest. All players were booed off court by an irate crowd.

The fiasco started when Chinese top seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang started to show little interest in beating Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na to finish top of Group A.

That would mean avoiding compatriots and second seeds Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei at least until the final.

Tian and Zhao had been sent off their natural path to the final as second seeds by defeat to Denmark's Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen earlier in the day.

The Koreans responded to China's antics by copying them and referee Thorsten Berg emerged to warn all the players.

The match restarted and the Koreans went on to win 21-14 21-11.

A second Korean pair, the third seeds Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, then attempted to throw their match against Indonesia's Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii.

Their motive was apparent retaliation to avoid Wang and Yu in the quarter-finals, an outcome they failed to achieve as they eventually won 18-21 21-14 21-12.

The Indonesians were not innocent parties and tried to lose the game themselves.

Berg again intervened and disqualified the players but quickly reversed his decision. He returned to courtside later as the histrionics continued - despite an attempt to restrain him by the Indonesia coach - but did not approach the players again.

Korea's coach Sung Han-kook laid the blame squarely at the feet of China.

He said: "The Chinese started this. 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 claimed the Chinese tactics had simply been to preserve energy ahead of the knockout phase.

Whatever reasons for the bizarre spectacle, it is certain to spark debate about the decision to introduce a round-robin stage as opposed to holding a straight knockout tournament.

The spotlight will also be cast once again on the Chinese, who dominate world badminton but have been accused of manipulation before.

Petya Nedelcheva, the Bulgarian women's singles 15th seed who had been playing on an adjacent court at the time of the first incident, was forthright in her general criticism.

She said: "China control everything. 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."

Nedelcheva's comments are supported by figures compiled by online magazine Badzine earlier this year which show that of the 99 all-Chinese matches played in major tournaments in 2011, 20 were walkovers.


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