Four women’s badminton doubles pairs, including the reigning world champions from China, faced a disciplinary hearing Wednesday after being charged with trying to throw their matches at the London Olympics to secure an easier matchup in later rounds.
The Badminton World Federation said in a statement it had charged the players from China, South Korea and Indonesia under its players’ code of conduct 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 doubles pairs were all due to compete in quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency cited an unnamed spokesman for the Chinese delegation as saying the delegation was taking the incident seriously and had ordered its own investigation.
“The Chinese delegation will handle this case according to the results of the investigation into this match,” the spokesman said.
World doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China and their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na were booed loudly by the crowd Tuesday after dumping serves into the net and making simple errors like hitting the shuttlecock wide.
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 head 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.”
The South Koreans filed a protest with the referees.
“It’s not like the Olympics spirit to play like this,” Sung Han-kook said. “How could the No. 1 pair in the world play like this?”