Eight charged over ‘throwing’ badminton matches

Agence France-Presse
The Olympic badminton tournament was thrown into chaos when 8 women players were charged with trying to "throw" matches to secure an easier draw

Badminton World Federation (BWF) Referee Torsten Berg (C) urges Indonesia's Greysia Polii (C) and Meilana Jauhari (bottom R) and South Korea's Ha Jung Eun (back, R) and Kim Min Jung (unseen) to play fairly in their women's doubles badminton match during the London 2012 Olympic Games in London on July 31, 2012. South Korean won the match 18-21, 21-14, 21-12. AFP PHOTO / ADEK BERRY

LONDON, United Kingdom – The Olympic badminton tournament was thrown into chaos on Wednesday, August 1, when eight women players were charged with trying to “throw” matches to secure an easier draw in the next round.

Four pairs in the women’s doubles competition – one from China, one from Indonesia and two from South Korea – were booed off court by irate spectators at London’s Wembley Arena on Tuesday, July 31.

The players in two matches had appeared to deliberately serve into the net to concede points, hit the shuttlecock out of play, or waste time.

They could be disciplined after the Badminton World Federation (BWF) charged them 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”.

A hearing is due to take place Wednesday, although all four pairs are currently still included in the order of play for their quarter-finals scheduled in the evening.

The players were allegedly attempting to manipulate the final standings in the first-round group stage, with two pairs who had already qualified apparently wanting to lose to secure easier opponents in the next round.

A match between China’s world champions Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli and unseeded South Korean pair Jung Kyung and Kim Ha Na came under scrutiny after the Chinese lost a contest they would normally be expected to win.

With their defeat, Yu and Wang avoided playing another fellow Chinese pair who had finished second in another group, in the quarter-finals.

Yu said after the match: “We’ve already qualified, so why would we waste energy? It’s not necessary to go out hard again when the knockout rounds are tomorrow.”

China’s Olympic delegation – already fighting off accusations of doping against teenage swimming sensation Ye Shiwen – has launched an investigation into the badminton allegations, state media said.

“The Chinese Olympic Committee… opposes any kind of behaviour to violate the sporting spirit and morality,” a Chinese Olympic spokesman told Xinhua news agency.

A later match in which South Korean third seeds Ha Jung-Eun and Kim Min-Jung beat Indonesian pair Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii is also being investigated by the governing body.

History made

The scandal came after Michael Phelps swam into history on Tuesday, becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time after winning the 19th medal of his career.

Phelps anchored the US team to a resounding victory in the 4x200m freestyle relay to collec his first gold of the London Games and overtake the 18 medals amassed by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.

A silver medal for Phelps behind Chad le Clos of South Africa in the 200m butterfly – an event that the American had dominated for more than a decade – had tied the record earlier in the evening.

Phelps, 27, paid tribute to his relay teammates for helping him into the record books.

“I thanked those guys for helping me get to this moment,” he said. “I told those guys I wanted a big lead in the last leg and they gave it to me.

“I just wanted to hold on.”

One of the men waiting to take over the mantle from Phelps as a multiple medal winner in the pool, 21-year-old Australia’s James Magnussen, goes in search of a first Olympic swimming gold on Wednesday in the 100m freestyle.

Ye meanwhile is set to face fresh questions about her rapid rise after the 16-year-old Chinese girl won the 200m medley on Tuesday to collect her second gold of the Games.

Away from the pool, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins bids on Wednesday to become Britain’s most successful Olympian when he goes in the individual time trial.

Wiggins starts as favorite for the 44km race around London’s Hampton Court Palace after winning both long time trials on the Tour.

A medal of any color would see Wiggins overtake the six won by rower Steve Redgrave.

While the US and China battle for supremacy at the top of the medals’ table, the host nation is still waiting for its first gold medal.

Britain is hoping that rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning deliver it in early action in the women’s pairs event. – Guy Jackson, Agence France-Presse