THE OLYMPIC BADMINTON tournament was thrown into chaos today when eight women players were charged with trying to “throw” matches to secure an easier draw in the next round.
Four pairs in the women’s doubles competition – one from China, one from Indonesia and two from South Korea – were booed off court by irate spectators at London’s Wembley Arena yesterday.
The players in two matches had appeared to deliberately serve into the net to concede points, hit the shuttlecock out of play, or waste time.
They could be disciplined after the Badminton World Federation (BWF) charged them 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”.
A hearing is due to take place today, although all four pairs are currently still included in the order of play for their quarter-finals scheduled in the evening.
The players were allegedly attempting to manipulate the final standings in the first-round group stage, with two pairs who had already qualified apparently wanting to lose to secure easier opponents in the next round.
A match between China’s world champions Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli and unseeded South Korean pair Jung Kyung and Kim Ha Na came under scrutiny after the Chinese lost a contest they would normally be expected to win.
With their defeat, Yu and Wang avoided playing another fellow Chinese pair who had finished second in another group, in the quarter-finals.
Yu said after the match: “We’ve already qualified, so why would we waste energy? It’s not necessary to go out hard again when the knockout rounds are tomorrow.”
China’s Olympic delegation – already fighting off accusations of doping against teenage swimming sensation Ye Shiwen – has launched an investigation into the badminton allegations, state media said.
“The Chinese Olympic Committee… opposes any kind of behaviour to violate the sporting spirit and morality,” a Chinese Olympic spokesman told Xinhua news agency.
A later match in which South Korean third seeds Ha Jung-Eun and Kim Min-Jung beat Indonesian pair Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii is also being investigated by the governing body.