Badminton authorities have launched disciplinary proceedings against four women’s doubles pairs for appearing to try to lose their matches at the London Olympics to secure a favourable draw.
Britain’s Press Association said the Badminton World Federation issued a statement confirming the players face charges of “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.”
It was not immediately clear what sanctions the players, from China, South Korea and Indonesia, could face.
World doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China and their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na were booed by the crowd on Tuesday after dumping serves into the net and making simple errors.
The longest rally in their first game was only four strokes. The umpire warned them and tournament referee Torsten Berg spoke to all four players but it had little effect.
Eventually, the Chinese women lost 21-14, 21-11 and both pairs were jeered off the court.
The teams had already qualified for the last 16, but the result ensured that the top-seeded Wang and Yu will avoid playing their No. 2-seeded Chinese teammates until the final.
The problem was repeated in the next women’s doubles between South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii. Both teams were also warned for deliberately losing points in a match the Koreans won 18-21, 21-14, 21-12. The capacity crowd vented their displeasure on them, too.
“If they play right, the Chinese team, this wouldn’t happen,” said South Korea coach Sung Han-kook. “So we did the same because we don’t want to play Korea. Nobody likes playing against strong players.”
Yu said they were only trying to save energy for the knockout rounds starting on Wednesday.
“We would try hard in every match if they were elimination games,” she said. “Because they are group stage that’s why we are conserving energy.
“If we’re not playing the best it’s because it doesn’t matter if we’re the first or the second (in the group) we’re already through. The most important thing is the elimination match tomorrow.”
Australia coach Lasse Bundgaard blamed the group format for the controversy.
“It’s not good when you create a tournament where the players are put in this situation,” he said. “If you can win a medal by losing, but not by winning, that’s not a good situation to be put in.
“I totally understand why they are doing it. Now the Indonesians are doing the same but it’s not a good situation to be put in.”