LONDON -- “Evening of shame.”
Not words you often -- if ever -- associate with the sport of badminton. But those were the words being used by British TV after eight female badminton players were kicked out of the Olympic Games doubles competition on Wednesday afternoon over twin 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.”
The Badminton World Federation held a closed-door hearing on the matter in the aftermath of events on Tuesday night at Wembley Arena. Television images showed clips of the players in question going through the motions and appearing to “tank” in order to get a more favorable draw going forward.
The players dumped serves into the net and didn’t even offer the pretense of trying.
Spectators booed the players, and some demanded refunds. At one point, the referee took to the court to warn the players, threatening disqualification.
The ousted pairs were: Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang (China); Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari (Indonesia); Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na (South Korea); and Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung (South Korea).
The Chinese players are the reigning world champions.
“We applaud the federation for having taken swift and decisive action,” International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams told the Associated Press. “Such behavior is incompatible with the Olympic values.” The badminton federation said South Korea had appealed the decision.
At a Wednesday morning briefing, the chairman of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Sebastian Coe, looked annoyed when referring to the mess, saying, “It is unacceptable.”
Top badminton players around the world reacted with outrage. Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark, who is ranked 14th in the world, wrote on his Twitter account that it was a “disastrous night” for the sport:
“Hard to see the sport I love like this! What a disgrace! I’m not going to blame BWF for the group format -- players should always try to win!!!
“Now some are saying “but China cheated first.” Really?? Do you steal because other people steal -- I think not!! Disastrous day for badminton.”