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.

(MORE: Olympic Highlights in Photographs)

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.”

58 comments
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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.

Nora_VH
Nora_VH

 The difference between what happened here and what swimmers and runners do, is that swimmers and runners need to conserve their energy in order to be able to do well later. Pacing is entirely appropriate. Badminton isn't a race, so the same stipulation doesn't apply. I don't agree with your statement that "the players are just doing their best to win the tournament". If they were actually doing their best, they could win the tournament that way - by going against the best there is and winning. Honorably. 

miakotamatsue
miakotamatsue

Why can't the stipulation applies?  In badminton, each player race to the end score to win.  Maybe they don't use their legs to "race" to the end, but there is a lot of physical play to achieve a winning score.  If your assumption is that badminton isn't physical like other sports, apparently, you have never played badminton let alone professional badminton.  These athletes were actually doing their best by using their mind and body to win.  In this case, using the mind was more beneficial (at least until the final match).  

If your argument is that the rules was not in the spirit of the Olympics, then I would agree with you.  But to blame the athletes for openly playing within the rules is not right.

zoenechita
zoenechita

It's just a strategy for winning because both Chinese players are injured. They want to conserve energy for the next game. The rules make this happen, kind of. It seems most of people are blaming their un-Olympic spirits, but there's one more motto in Olympic games: Faster, higher, stronger. No one in the Olympic stage does not want to win. 

cdog1111
cdog1111

CRAP. I witnessed a majority of the match in which boos and hisses were strewn about the arena. I, personally, could not have behaved in such a manner.

Had the players been American, I would have embarassed as hell. Given the culprits here, I am not surprised.

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.

happydayfortennis
happydayfortennis

Even the ones that did nothing wrong? I agree that it was right to disqualify this particular team along with the three others, but I don't think it's fair to punish the other Chinese players for something their teammates did.

Update: I totally didn't flag your comment, and I don't think it deserved to be flagged.

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...

Lastrova
Lastrova

Selectivity bias, I see.

Ben Huang
Ben Huang

Way to make it about race. I am very, very satisfied with the decision and I am of Asian descent. 

This isn't an issue over race. It's about being unsportsmanlike and destroying the Olympic spirit.

zoenechita
zoenechita

The Olympic spirit is they all have been trained for decades to prepare Olympic. They never give up because of their dreams. 

GoldenGir1
GoldenGir1

 If the system encourages losing on purpose, that's the one that should be fixed. After all, unless they get some sort of medal, they have nothing to show for all their 'sportsmanship'

Certification or some form of recognition for all the effort we put in - this is why we go to college, get licensed etc. Just because sports does not mean we should expect them to rise above the institutional limits

Brian Boughton
Brian Boughton

This is only true if you think the purpose of the Olympics is winning and not celebrating athletics.

wandmdave
wandmdave

 The officials can't help that only asians decided to cheat.

GoldenGir1
GoldenGir1

 Ahhh... how ignorant of you. I was merely pointing out that while some form of cheating is universal and prevalent, it is mainly the Asians taking a hit from the judges and referees. Women's epee fencing anyone?

wandmdave
wandmdave

Please forgive my ignorance. I did not realize the badminton world federation had jurisdiction over womens epee fencing.

Brian Boughton
Brian Boughton

which is why China is winning in Gold medals? I've seen the US screwed in Gymnastics as Romania got better scores for lesser routines... it's all in the judging and it all comes out in the wash at the end.

Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar

wrong ... as a player you put up with the system u r playing into .. trying to cheat your way to victory gets you disqualified ... eventually they all should have together expressed their complaint wit the "game officers" ... Probably would have not got anything, but at least they would be respected as human being and would still be playing. 

GoldenGir1
GoldenGir1

How is 'gaming the system' for best possible tournament layout same as cheating? It's not like they were playing with 3 players on one side. I do agree that it was unsportsmanlike behavior, but that is different from cheating. Look up the definition 

cdog1111
cdog1111

It could be the asian culture runs inciongruent to that of a noble one.

miakotamatsue
miakotamatsue

Apparently, you skipped class when they taught about the genocides that were committed by Europeans.  Be cool and stay in school.

cdog1111
cdog1111

Yup. I skipped class to participate in those same genocides.

GoldenGir1
GoldenGir1

 And where are you from, Victorian Era? I can't believe that there are 7 (cdog1111 + 6 dumb asses) retards who actually think this way. Yeah because non-Asians never cheat or steal or murder or do anything that is not quite so noble... Let's see.... Ah yes the Aurora 'Joker' he must have been Asian too, right?

cdog1111
cdog1111

Dear GoldenShower,

Lighten up.

happydayfortennis
happydayfortennis

Just because people disagree with you, doesn't mean they're dumb asses or retards. I agree with you on a few specific points, but you're really going too far to the point of being irrational and illogical.

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”

zoenechita
zoenechita

which country does not care medals? 

Sungwoon Park
Sungwoon Park

 You've got to be kidding... I think you're talking about Americans. They're the only country that counts the total GOLD medals won as a victory, not the greatest amount of medals earned in general. I think you need to re-evaluate your conjecture, especially how your basing it on one Badminton game.

cdog1111
cdog1111

Quite simply..........You are wrong.

LegalBagel
LegalBagel

What you say isn't true at all:  Americans count all medals, including golds (other countries also talk about golds a lot, including Koreans).  Americans, like others, also value sportsmanship and competition. 

Lastrova
Lastrova

Funny, I've heard that Chinese athletes only want gold.  By Chinese athletes during interviews.  Knowing how important FACE is in China, I really have no doubt about the veracity of those interviews.

Ben Huang
Ben Huang

Source? Every news source I see keeps track of the overall medal count as the main stat, such as Yahoo.

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