8 Olympic badminton players charged with throwing games:
It’s one thing to have an off day in the field of play, and then there’s what transpired Tuesday in a pair of women’s badminton matches at the London Olympics.
The end result was the World Badminton Federation charging eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia with misconduct for attempting to throw preliminary-round games to secure a more favourable draw later in the tournament.
"The pairs have been 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'," the federation said in a statement.
The questionable play began courtesy of China’s Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, the world doubles champions, who were booed off the court at Wembley Arena after appearing to intentionally lose their match against the South Korean pair of Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na whose play also looked suspicious.
At various times, both teams dumped serves into the net and made simple errors. Even a warning from the umpire midway through the first game followed by words from tournament referee Torsten Berg seemed to have little effect.
China fell 21-14, 21-11, meaning the top seeds, Wang and Yu, wouldn’t have to face their No. 2-seeded teammates until the final.
Yu attempted to explain the lacklustre play by saying she and her partner were simply saving energy for the knockout rounds, which begin Wednesday.
“We would try hard in every match if they were elimination games,” Yu 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 [group] we’re already through. The most important thing is the elimination match [Wednesday].”
The South Koreans filed a protest, with head coach Sung Han-kook noting such play isn’t part of the Olympic spirit.
“How could the No. 1 pair in the world play like this? They start playing mistakes,” he said.
In a later match, South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, along with Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii were talked to for deliberately losing points in a match won by South Korea 18-21, 21-14, 21-12.