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Badminton eight kicked out of Games

1st August 2012

• Eight disqualified in disgrace after farcical matches
• All were charged with ‘behaviour abusive to the sport’
• Players were booed on court and warned by referee

Eight badminton players at the London Olympics have been dramatically disqualified after being charged with trying to throw their matches.

The extraordinary move follows farcical scenes on Tuesday which led to the competitors being booed by spectators. All four pairs of female doubles players had already qualified for the next round and appeared to be trying to manipulate which team they would have to face in the quarter-finals.

The Badminton World Federation said early on Wednesday it had charged the players, from China, South Korea and Indonesia, with not using their best efforts to win a match and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport”.

Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, the Chinese top seeds, and their South Korean rivals, Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, were booed on Tuesday as the players repeatedly hit shots wide or served into the net. The referee, Thorsten Berg, warned the players over their conduct.

The other match also involved a South Korean pair, Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, up against the Indonesians Meiliana Juahari and Greysia Polii. The Koreans eventually won by two sets to one.

Lord Coe attacked the performances, branding the behaviour “depressing” and “unacceptable”, and asking: “Who wants to sit through something like that?” The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, meanwhile, said the crowd had “a right to feel very, very let down by what happened”.

LOCOG, however, said it would not refund tickets for the matches. Paul Deighton, the chief executive, said spectators had been able to watch another match in the session adding: “You get in to all sorts of strange precedents if people aren’t satisfied with what they see – it is very grey and dangerous territory.”

South Korea’s head coach, Sung Han-kook, blamed the Chinese for Tuesday’s events. “If they played right, the Chinese team, this wouldn’t happen,” he said. “So we did the same.”

The incidents prompted Gail Emms, the former British badminton star, to tell the BBC: “You cannot do this in an Olympic Games, this is something that is not acceptable … it was just disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful.”

Emms said that the potential for spot-fixing was raised in a manager’s meeting on Monday but that the referee had dismissed their concerns.

“All the managers got together with the referee and said, ‘look, this has happened; in Group D you will find some very dodgy matches going on in the evening because of it’ and the referee laughed and said ‘oh don’t be silly’,” she said. “And the managers said ‘we know the game, we know the players and we know the teams and we know this is going to happen.”

She added: “Badminton, in the Olympics and in all tournaments across the circuit, it’s never played in a group stage, it’s always a straight knockout system and for some reason they decided that the Olympic Games in 2012 should be this group stages.

“And as soon as I heard that I went ‘it’s going to bring up match fixing’, that was my first thought, and lo and behold last night that is exactly what happened.”

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