The Un-Olympic Spirit: Eight Badminton Players Disqualified After Attempting to Throw Their Matches

The Badminton World Federation has ruled to disqualify four women's doubles teams amid accusations of manipulating the tournament.

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Bazuki Muhammad / Reuters

Officials speaking to players from China and South Korea (from left: South Korea's Kim Ha-na, Jung Kyung-eun, China's Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli) during their women's doubles group stage badminton matches during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Wembley Arena on July 31, 2012.

Excited crowds have greeted most Olympic matches at London 2012 with cheers. But the badminton match between China’s Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang and South Korea’s Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na on Tuesday night drew nothing but boos and hisses.

Each team racked up extensive errors throughout the match, either serving the birdie directly into the net or swatting it way out of bounds. Spectators became piqued as they began to suspect the mistakes were intentional, and the referee stopped the game to lecture the players. “They’re serving fault after fault,” said an outraged BBC commentator. “They’re serving them straight into the net. I’m sorry, it’s blindingly obvious what’s going on.”

Officials accused the teams of trying to manipulate the tournament by throwing their matches in order to score more favorable draws in the next round.  Since badminton is played as a round-robin tournament, rather than a knockout format, losing a match could lead to playing a weaker team in the next round. Ultimately, such sloppy performances could have boosted the team’s chances of making it to the finals.

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The winners of Tuesday’s match would have gone up against China’s Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei in the quarterfinals. The Chinese teams allegedly did not want to face each other until the finals.

“The Chinese started this,” South Korea’s coach Sung Han-kook told the BBC. “They did it first. It’s a complicated thing with the draws. They didn’t want to meet each other in the semi-final. They don’t want that to happen.”

In a hearing on Wednesday morning, the Badminton World Federation disqualified the teams — as well as South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min Jung and Indonesia’s Greysia Poli and Meiliana Jauhari — over accusations of “not using [their] best efforts to win a match.” They were also accused of “conducting [themselves] in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.”

A statement from the BWF said that the Indonesian and South Korean teams were intending to fight the decision, but after officials rejected South Korea’s appeal, Indonesia withdrew their own. Many officials have already welcomed the ruling. The International Olympic Committee’s vice president Craig Reedie told the Associated Press, “Sport is competitive. If you lose the competitive element, then the whole thing becomes a nonsense.”

82 comments
Yingchuan Gong
Yingchuan Gong

Today British cyclist just used the same way to win a gold. Actually they are worse because they intentionally ruined a champion match. Did you say anything about that? No. And you are curious about why Chinese are angry? Can you be more racist than this? Shame on London and all you so call fair play!

zrlx
zrlx

First, the athletesshould not to be blame,because every player who take part in the Olympic Games is to win the medal.All their life,most of their time of training is to reach this goal.How can we imagine the hardships they came though.

second,it is just a strategy to help themselves to win the game.In other games,such as world cup,europe football cup,also use the rules to let the stronger team out.

Sam Sung Jae Kim
Sam Sung Jae Kim

hi i am a korean

and i am really embarrassed about this incident

well, i am not only embarrassed about this...

but also....some our nerds nuked facebook of players or referee

i feel so stupid...

miakotamatsue
miakotamatsue

I would agree that these athletes should have not been disqualified.  It was just a strategy within the set rules to win the game.  The fact that they did not try to hide it tells you that they honestly believe it was within the rules.  It's not like American baseball where a lot of the athletes take illegal performance enhancement drugs and try to hide.

If the Olympics official didn't like how the rules are being played, then change it.  But don't disqualify these athletes who worked hard to get there.  Like all sports (perhaps with the exception of baseball), badminton is 90% mind and 10% physical.

Disquskurr
Disquskurr

Imagine, if they can do this blatantly during the Olympics, what do in their business,dealings etc.

That's Chinese character for you, they can lie while looking straight into your eye !!

As someone who has been to Beijing thrice, I can say this with absolute surety :

Never trust the Chinese on ethics, never !!

rory2012
rory2012

Those people run the badminton are not deserved to be there, up to this point they still don't admit there is a problem with this format.This kind of tanking in sport happened very often in all kind of sport. It only looks more ugly with individual competitor sport than the team sport e.g. soccer,basketball etc.(they all choose their next weakest opponent after the group stage.e.g. they use the inexperienced player for the match which has no bearing for the outcome in the group match once they secure their spot for next stage.

LegalBagel
LegalBagel

Pacing is one thing, but deliberately hitting into the net and missing shots is completely another.  If the tournament is set up to encourage losing at a certain point, then the system should be changed.  The bad system still doesn't excuse playing to lose.

LegalBagel
LegalBagel

Throwing a match never sits well with any crowd or international sporting authority.  You may call it strategy but, as you well know, it is a losing strategy.....

Ong Yiin Sheng
Ong Yiin Sheng

On the contrary, Badminton is a race. On average per game, players sprints 6 km. If a player cannot keep up in terms of technique, speed and endurance, the player looses. Pacing in races, is footwork to badminton. Similar to that of a track race don't you think so? Hence their logic of conserving energy for a later "race" which they would have a higher probability of winning. The only difference however would be the round robin system, which of course does not exist in track events. Now imagine if it does. You would see the exact scenario in track as in badminton.

I do not agree to them throwing the match however as it would not be in the spirit of sportsmanship, I do however recognize that what they did reflect them to be overly competitive. Do not mistaken sportsmanship with competitiveness, there is a difference.  Sportsmanship would be to  do their best in every game with regards and respect to opponents. Competitiveness would be to do all else to win, nothing less then win.

The main question now would be to what purpose was the Olympics held??? To celebrate sportsmanship by sportsman striving to reach the pinnacle of man's capabilities or to celebrate the best competitiveness by sportsman with the aim to be nothing but Winners?? Answer that and you will know if the players were right or wrong to do as the Chinese and Korean players.

Haiyu Zhang
Haiyu Zhang

Every round-robbin tournament has that kind of problem. I think it is a kind of strategy just like that in football, basketball. The final decision is totally unfair to players. After all, for most players it is a fours' dream.

The Other Half of Me
The Other Half of Me

I have no idea, why they're disqualified?

It's caused by the system of the competition! you can call it as "loophole". Just like paying tax. You can do tax avoidance legally, but if you do tax evasion, then you will go to the jail!

Valerie
Valerie

Takes 2 to tango. As the players are being penalised, it's time for the relevant parties (whether the BWF or IOC) to find a permanent solution. The round-robin format just wouldn't work in sports with more than one country representative. How encouraging is it for the players when the competition format itself benefits those who perform less well?

Lastrova
Lastrova

The round-robin system was a huge mistake.  It's like telling a group of starving children to eat the small amount of food on their plates, but if they're a bit too slow, they won't get any more.  However, if they leave a lot of food on their plates, they'll get even MORE for their next meal.  People instinctively try to beat the system.  It's human nature.

drorbenami
drorbenami

with the competitive element it is still nonsense....perhaps more so...

dawnkucera
dawnkucera

I like the strong action, and how quickly it was done. Good on the badminton folks. 

jimmy kraktov
jimmy kraktov

These people are obviously not in it for the game. It was right to throw them out. They should be made to pay their own way home!

Yoram Arnon
Yoram Arnon

there's clearly a problem with the rules.

If players can improve their chances to win the tournament by losing a match then penalizing the players is just a cop-out. The rules must encourage best effort in every game.

The players are just doing their best to win the tournament.

No one faults swimmers or runners for just squeaking into the finals, conserving energy in the qualifying rounds, and giving it all in the finals. It's not the same, clearly, but rules are important, and in this case they encourage throwing games. That's what's nonsense here, not lack of competitiveness.

Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar

mmh if this is the mentality .. then there probably is a lot of doping too 

cdog1111
cdog1111

The Chinese players should have been banned for being so ugly.

GoldenGir1
GoldenGir1

Interesting how the officials are jumping at chances to disqualify or screw over Asian nationals at this Olympic ....

If system (robin-robin) is the problem ,then  fix the system - don't blame the players for wanting to max their chances for a shot at the gold. 

Edit: when I say Asians being screwed over, for clarification purposes, I am saying that same thing that would have gone unnoticed or not penalized if it were a European nation, seems to be punished for non-Europe/North America nations - with Asians being the most obvious victims.

Ex: fake 'dives' during soccer matches, Women's epee fencing with f-ed up time keeper who needs to go back to kindergarten to learn how to keep time, etc etc...

Also I would have said the same thing about the punishment being unfair even if it weren't Asians. They were simply trying to boost their shot at the gold, if not at least a medal.

For all of you judging ... yeah you have the right to do that because none of you have ever called in sick to work when you were not so sick, took the easy GPA booster classes in college etc...

Mark Robison
Mark Robison

This new episode in the Olympics was started by China. China does not hold the spirit of the olympics to heart. They are medal counters only. The" means justifies the end”

Amitavo Mitra
Amitavo Mitra

they should have been banned from future olympics for bringing the sport and the institution of olympics into disrepute. outright disqualifying them from the tourney is the least that should have been done,and thats what been done. kudos to the officials for upholding the spirit of olympics. not all sports can be done in knock-out format, also, any team in an one-off match can have a bad day and crash out. round robin allows the more consistent team to win and provide the audience highest level of competition. throwing a game in any sport is shameful and makes a complete mockery of competition.

duduong
duduong

These players decided to slack and lose so that they could win easily later. I am glad to see that the IOC is suddenly taking a hard line against un-sportsmanlike conducts like this, but can someone explain to me why long-distance runners are still allowed to slack and trail in the first half so that they can win in the end?

Before you answer that runners don't have to lose a race to win the finals, imagine the scenario in which they do have to lose a separate preliminary race to have advantage in the final. (This analogy has to be imaginary because obviously no other Olympic committees are as dumb.) Now that is the situation faced by these Badminton players. Why are the people who set up the wrong incentives escaping blame completely?

IronBaby11
IronBaby11

The punishment seems a bit harsh.

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