Olympics: Eight badminton players ousted for trying to lose
|China’s Yu Yang (left) and Wang Xiaoli are two of the eight women’s badminton players who were disqualified from the Olympics for deliberately trying to lose matches. (AP)|
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LONDON — Eight badminton players were kicked out of the London Olympics on Wednesday for trying to lose – a display that drew outrage from fans and organizers who said the women violated the most sacred stage in sports.
It appeared to be the first mass disqualification in Olympic history.
After an unexpected loss by a powerful Chinese doubles team, the eight women appeared to play poorly on purpose Tuesday night at Wembley Arena to secure a more favorable position in the next phase of the event.
The feeble play was obvious, causing fans to chant, “Off! Off! Off!”
“They’re serving fault and fault! They are just hitting the ball into the net!” the BBC’s David Mercer said. “They are both trying to lose, and that is unforgivable. This is the Olympic Games.”
They were disqualified but allowed to stay at the games – a step lighter than expulsion, the penalty for positive drug tests.
None of the players was made available for interviews. But after the match, one of them, Yu Yang of China, said they were saving energy for the knockout rounds, which began Wednesday.
In a statement released to the official Xinhua news agency, the Chinese Olympic delegation criticized its players’ actions.
“The behavior by Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli on court violated the Olympics ideal and the spirit of fair play. The Chinese delegation feels distressed over this matter,” the delegation said.
The chain of manipulation was set in motion when a team from Denmark unexpectedly beat the second-seeded team in the tournament, from China.
The loss put the Chinese team on course to face their compatriots, world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu, in the semifinals, not the finals, as expected.
Wang and Yu set out to lose so they would go into the bottom half of the draw. They hardly exerted themselves – and neither did their opponents, the South Koreans, drawing fans’ jeers from the crowd and warnings from the umpire.
Wang and Yu proved better at losing.
Later, the other South Korean team tried to lose, this time to the Indonesians, to avoid meeting Wang and Yu in the quarters. The Indonesians had the same idea, and they ultimately succeeded at losing.
The South Koreans fell into the playoff they did not want with the world champions.
They were punished by the federation for “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.”
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