London. Eight players involved in a match-fixing scandal at the Olympic badminton tournament have been disqualified from the Games, a senior source with knowledge of the case told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.
The eight players — four from South Korea, two from Indonesia and two from China — were disqualified following a disciplinary hearing of the Badminton World Federation, the source told AFP.
The news suits former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, who called on Wednesday that the nefarious eight players be kicked out of the tournament in an interview before the announcement of the disqualification.
Former world champion Hidayat, the gold-medallist at Athens 2004, called the matches “a circus.” He said all four duos should be banished from the Games if the charges by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) were proven true.
“It’s a bad image for badminton,” he said. “If they are going to be disqualified than I’m happy. It’s for the sport. Sport is sport. That’s not sport. I hope they are disqualified.
“It’s not for China. It’s not for Indonesia. It’s for sport.”
Hidayat, who lost his round-of-16 match against China’s Lin Dan, mocked their clownish moves.
“Like a circus match,” he said, swinging an imaginary racket wildly to mimic how the women sprayed shuttlecocks into the net and beyond the boundaries to squander points at the Wembley Arena. It happens a lot. I hope players can learn from it. It’s not sport. It’s like in ladies doubles, China has never lost to Korea. It’s like a movie.
“For the IOC [International Olympic Committee] it’s very bad. I hope the BWF does something,” Hidayat said, before hearing the news.
The women involved include South Korea’s Ha Jung-Eun and Kim Min-Jung, who beat Indonesian pair Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii, and Chinese powers Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, who lost to unseeded South Korean pair Jung Kyung and Kim Ha Na and thereby avoided China’s Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei in the draw.
Lin, the men’s world number one, said the fault lies with organizers who set up a playing schedule that opens the door to situations such as needing a loss to create a more favorable draw.
“It’s not their fault,” Lin said. “Whenever they set the rules they should take that situation into consideration. I don’t understand why there is a group situation [rather than straight knockout competition].”
He compared the drama to England not wanting to face Spain early in World Cup football knockout stages and being able to act to avoid it.
“These things happen,” Lin said. “We need to keep this kind of thing from happening.”
Other players were depressed by the sport’s image taking a battering.
“I’m really sad about it,” said Denmark’s Kamilla Rytter Juhl. “It’s really sad for badminton. I really hope there will be some consequences. It’s not good something like this can happen with no rules and no punishment.”
Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne says the stain on badminton is particularly harsh coming at the Olympics.
“I don’t agree with it. That’s something really bad. Not doing your best at the Olympics, where it’s about the sport and your humanity and character, it’s really bad.”
China’s Zhang Nan, who plays in mixed doubles, was confident there would be no repeat of the incidents in the later stages of the tournament, now that knockout rounds have started.
“If this happened, it definitely damaged the image of badminton,” Zhang said. “I don’t feel this will happen in the later matches.”
After Tuesday’s results, the quarter-final pairings are set to have Chinese duos meet as late as possible, notes France’s Pi Hongyan.
“In order to win they avoid playing the Chinese for as long as possible. It’s their strategy,” she said of the Koreans. “Nobody wants to play the Chinese. They are number one.
“The problem is the way the draw works. If you didn’t know in advance who you were going to play you wouldn’t have that problem. If the draw was done the night before you wouldn’t have this problem.”
Some see the logic in the argument about avoiding a tough draw at all costs, even at the sacrifice of the basic law of Olympic sport — giving best effort to try and win at all times.
“You can’t blame anyone,” India’s Kashyap Parupalli said. “They want to try and win a medal. They are doing if for their country. [It’s] very harsh if they punish them.”