EIGHT female badminton players have been sent home from the Olympics, disqualified by the sport’s world federation after throwing matches in a case condemned by London Games boss Sebastian Coe as “depressing” and “unacceptable”.
A disciplinary hearing held this morning, which Australia’s badminton coach made a submission to, found that four players from South Korea, two from Indonesia and the competition’s top seeds from China deliberately tried to lose their qualifying matches in an attempt to manipulate their draws.
The four sets of doubles teams were charged after matches on Tuesday littered with basic errors. Accused by badminton’s international governing body of “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport”, they were ultimately found guilty of trying to lose with the motive of improving their positions for the knockout stages.
The sensational mass ejection could lead to Australia’s reinstatement in the round robin competition – a new, and now controversial, format for these Olympics – but the Australian Olympic Committee says it is yet to receive advice amid reports that the Indonesian team might appeal the disqualification. Regardless, Australian pair Renuga Veeran and Leanne Choo stand to receive a lifeline after initially being eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, the women’s doubles competition has been thrown into disarray with the looming appeals and decisions on whether teams previously eliminated will be reinstated or whether the competition will proceed without the disqualified teams. The competition was due to resume – at quarter-final stage – on Wednesday afternoon at Wembley, but half of the eight teams would be missing.
According to reports, the head coach of South Korea, Sung Han-kook, admitted before the disciplinary hearing that his players threw their games, but he blamed the Chinese team for initiating the contest to lose so that the teams didn’t have to meet again in the semi-finals.
“Who would want to sit through something like that?” Coe said on Wednesday morning before the disqualifications were confirmed.
“It’s unacceptable. And I know he badminton federation really well and they will take that really seriously. It is unacceptable.”
Australia’s badminton coach, Lasse Bundgaard, become involved in the case after lodging an official protest over the alarming ‘contests’ at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night that provoked booing from the crowd. The players served into the net repeatedly and hit wide.
“He didn’t do that in order to Australia to progress in any way shape or form,” Australia’s deputy chef de mission Kitty Chiller said.
“He genuinely feels it’s important for the integrity of the sport to lodge that protest. He cares about the sport, and it is found that that’s happened, it’s certainly not something that we would encourage or condone.”
London’s Olympic organising committee said it would not refund tickets because spectators had watched other matches in the session.
“You get into all sorts of strange precedents if people aren’t satisfied with what they see,” London organising committee CEO Paul Deighton said.
“If you get into that territory it’s very grey.”
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