Olympics: 8 players disqualified over badminton fixing
LONDON (AFP) - Eight players involved in a fixing scandal at the Olympic badminton tournament have been disqualified, a senior source with knowledge of the case told AFP on Wednesday.
The eight women's doubles players - four from South Korea, two from Indonesia and two from China - were disqualified following a disciplinary hearing of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), the source told AFP. "They have been disqualified," said the source.
The eight are Chinese are top seed Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, South Korea's Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung as well as Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na as well as Indonesian pair Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii. All eight were 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".
Angry spectators jeered and booed the players on Tuesday after they appeared to deliberately serve into the net, or hit the shuttlecock long or wide. They were allegedly attempting to manipulate the final standings in the first-round group stage, with pairs who had already qualified apparently wanting to lose to secure a favourable draw in the next round.
Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat, the gold-medallist at Athens 2004, called Tuesday's matches "a circus" and during his men's singles last-16 defeat by world number one Lin Dan of China on Wednesday, he even mocked their moves.
"Like a circus match," he said, swinging an imaginary racket wildly to mimic how the women sprayed shuttlecocks into the net and beyond the boundaries to squander points at the Wembley Arena.
"It happens a lot. I hope players can learn from it. It's not sport. It's like in ladies doubles, China has never lost to Korea. It's like a movie.
"For the IOC (International Olympic Committee) it's very bad." He added: "I prefer for them to be disqualified because it affects the reputation of badminton. I hope it doesn't happen again in future as it is an embarrassment for our country and I want the best for our country."
"This kind of thing frequently happens and the BWF have to take it really seriously. I hope this will be a lesson everyone can learn from." Lin, the men's world number one, said the fault lay with organisers who set up a playing schedule that opened the door to match manipulation.
"It's not their (the players') fault," Lin said. "Whenever they set the rules they should take that situation into consideration. I don't understand why there is a group situation (rather than a straight knockout)." Sources at the BWF told AFP the scandal will bring radical changes to the Olympic format and a tightening of the disciplinary regulations, with the sport's rulers under pressure to act swiftly.
This is not the first time a major badminton tournament has been blighted by thrown matches.
A similar incident took place at the 2003 world championships in Birmingham, central England, when China's Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen were reprimanded after being found guilty of deliberately losing a quarter-final.
But the disciplinary meeting looking into that episode was held quietly at a later date, and a small fine imposed on the two Chinese players for allegedly not trying.
At stake now is badminton's Olympic status, which has been at risk in recent years after highly divisive internal politics, which reportedly brought a private warning from the IOC.
The BWF are also expected to drop the round-robin format used in London.
"It was clear what was going to happen, because so many people pointed out how the rules could be bent," said Britain's former Olympic silver medallist Gail Emms.
"I don't actually blame the players at all for what happened. They were only playing the system that was put in place.
"It was the new system that was wrong.
"The BWF was warned about it, but they decided to introduce it for the Olympics, of all occasions."