BEIJING: A top Chinese badminton star quit the sport as an Olympic match-throwing scandal met with dismay and criticism in China, Indonesia and South Korea, from where eight players were disqualified.
The Badminton World Federation’s move to eject a Chinese, an Indonesian and two South Korean pairs for failing to play their best, marked the first major scandal of the Games and prompted China’s Yu Yang to retire.
China roundly criticised the incident and, alone among the three countries, declined to appeal the decision to disqualify the athletes. Its sports delegation urged Yu, her partner Wang Xiaoli and head badminton coach Li Yongbo to publicly apologise. State-run media also highlighted the national team’s history of ‘losing on purpose’.
“Chinese players failed to demonstrate the fine tradition and fighting spirit of the national team. It’s me to blame,” Xinhua news agency quoted Li as saying. His apology contrasted earlier comments in April at the Asia Badminton Championships where he endorsed the strategy of holding back early in competitions to save energy for later rounds.
Shortly after her public apology, Yu announced on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog, that she planned to quit the sport.
“This is my last time competing. Goodbye Badminton World Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton,” she posted. “After working hard and dealing with injuries to prepare, [you] say we’re disqualified and we’re disqualified. You have heartlessly shattered our dreams.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.