Photo: (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is meeting this morning to decide what steps to take against eight female players who apparently conspired to throw their matches in the women’s doubles.UPDATE: THEY’VE BEEN THROWN OUT OF THE OLYMPICS!
The players, Chinese world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, Greysia Poli and Meiliana Jauhari of Indonesia and two South Korean pairs, Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min Jung, have been charged with attempting to throw their matches in an attempt to secure a favourable quarter-final draw.
The BWF is under pressure to expel all eight players from the competition in order to set a strong example.
The International Olympic Committee has taken unprecedented steps to tackle match-fixing in the London Games, with president Jacques Rogge describing it as the biggest threat to the integrity of the Games.
There is no suggestion of any betting associated with the matches, but the fact players appeared willing to manipulate results is arguably more corrosive to the reputation of the Games.
Rogge was a spectator at the badminton at Wembley Arena on Tuesday and the developments in the evening session are a significant embarrassment to the sport and the Games.
Expulsion would devastate the women’s doubles competition but it would discredit the competition and the sport were teams that had deliberately tried to lose allowed to continue.
One senior official described the incident as “extremely serious”, and if the WBF does not act strongly the IOC will consider stepping in.
The badminton is being played in a round-robin format for the first time in an Olympics, leaving the potential for ‘dead rubbers’ to be manipulated.
It is alleged that the Chinese pair deliberately attempt to lose so that they would avoid playing their compatriots, ranked No2 in the world, until the gold-medal match.
South Korea head coach Sung Han-kook admitted his two pairings attempted to throw their matches against the Chinese and Indonesians, but said it was in retaliation against the Chinese team, who instigated the situation.
It led to the farcical spectacle of both teams in both matches trying to lose. The players were jeered and booed by spectators as they apparently deliberately missed shots and served out of court.
“The pairs have been charged … with ‘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’,” the WBF said in a statement.
Spectators at the Wembley Arena shouted abuse and jeered at the players amid farcical scenes as the teams deliberately sprayed shots and duffed serves into the net to concede points.
“The Chinese sports delegation take the incident in the women’s badminton doubles very seriously,” a team official told state news agency Xinhua.
“After the delegation’s leadership learnt about it, they immediately tasked the relevant people with an investigation.
“The Chinese Olympic Committee has always advocated the fostering of the Olympic spirit on the playing field as well as the spirit of fair and just competition.
China “opposes any behaviour or acts which contravene this spirit or sports morality for any reason or in any form”, the report added.
The four pairs under suspicion are due to meet in the quarter-finals later today, with Jung and Kim due to play the Indonesian pair, while Wang and Yu take on the other South Korean pair.
Were they all to be expelled it would take out half of the draw.
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