In a bizarre scandal that could only come from the Olympics, eight female badminton players have been expelled for trying to intentionally lose matches.
On Wednesday (August 1st), the Badminton World Federation confirmed that it has disqualified eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia. According to USA Today, it is suspected that they were losing matches intentionally in order to receive a more favorable draw.
Saying that it had found the players guilty 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” in Tuesday night’s matches, the federation handed down its ruling. The audience at the events needed no such judgment, however, as they suspected foul play and booed the players loudly when they appeared to be holding back in the preliminary rounds of play.
Arguing that the unfortunate turn of events are due to this being the first time the Games held qualifying rounds for badminton rather than all-elimination play, Denmark National Olympic Committee president Niels Nygaard said that this type of intentional losing has been “a problem” in other international competitions under similar circumstances.
“This was a very good action to take,” says Nygaard. “It’s very important that the players play their best at all times. They always should be expected to play their best.”
Germany’s badminton team leader Martin Kranitz agreed. “You cannot accept that players manipulate the game,” Kranitz said after witnessing Tuesday’s matches. “It was unbelievable. Everybody could see this. This produces a negative image for badminton and a bad image of China.”
So, how did the athletes do it? In one disputed match from Tuesday, Chinese players Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yan went up against South Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, but the Chinese players seemed to repeatedly, deliberately serve into the net; it is suspected that they hoped to throw the match so they wouldn’t have to play another Chinese pair in the next round.
Shortly afterwards, a similar situation developed involving South Korean and Indonesian athletes. “It’s depressing,” said London Olympics chief Sebastian Coe. “Who wants to sit through something like that? It is unacceptable.”