Eight players involved in a match-fixing scandal at the Olympics badminton tournament have been disqualified, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed yesterday.
While the eight - four from South Korea, two from Indonesia and two from China - are appealing the decision, the Olympic badminton officials and players cheered the decision. Chinese top-seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari and South Korean duos Jung Kyung-Eun and Kim Ha-Na and Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung were thrown out of the women’s doubles event.
Angry spectators booed and jeered as China’s gold medal favourites swatted shuttlecocks beyond the boundaries and into the net and seemed to deliberately serve into the net. The pairs wanted to lose to secure a better draw in the knockout rounds after a Chinese duo had been upset earlier.
“As a sportsman, that is really wrong,” said executive board member of the BWF and the Thailand Olympic Committee Vice-President Charoen Wattanasin. “Once you’re on the court, like it or not, you have to try to win. That is why the spectators paid their money. Sooner or later something had to be done. I see the motive. I feel sorry for what happened. I’m not condemning anyone. But the disciplinary committee had to do something.”
Australian Olympic badminton coach Lasse Bundgaard, a native of Denmark, praised the decision as the proper message to send to discourage others from putting long-term strategy ahead of fundamental sporting principles.
“That’s great for the sport,” he said. “What they have done is the right thing to do. It says the world doesn’t go for that. That’s a good decision. That’s the right message to send, that world badminton will not accept that kind of behaviour.”
Danish team leader Finn Traerup-Hansen said the banished women violated the basic code of the Olympics to try their best for victory.
“It was not in the spirit of the Olympics as far as I am concerned,” he said. “If you look at the reaction form the public who paid good money to watch the matches, you know why they have chosen to disqualify the players.
“I was a little bit surprised they took that action. But when we have rules put in place we have to apply sanctions. When rules are violated you must do something. We can’t do nothing. That is not an option.”
But Traerup-Hansen also said that with the pressure to bring home medals in order to keep funding for certain sports, he was not shocked that Chinese athletes try to avoid each other as long as possible to enhance a multiple medal bid.
“It doesn’t come as a surprise,” he said. “In terms of our thinking, you are playing for yourself. Elsewhere, you play for your country. If the country is working on getting the most possible medals, the thinking is different. It might not have been the players who were responsible for what we saw last night.”
“That’s great for the sport. What they have done is the right thing to do. It says the world doesn’t go for that. That’s a good decision. That’s the right message to send, that world badminton will not accept that kind of behaviour.”
“Chinese people have better skills than others and were better trained but they shouldn’t have lost to Denmark. That was the flame that sparked them trying to lose. This is a decision by the BWF and we have to accept it.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.