Olympic badminton teams China and South Korea were booed off the Olympic court on Tuesday after China appeared to intentionally lose against South Korea.
Wang Xiaoli and Yu Wang of China didn’t look like they were trying very hard to win against South Korea’s Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, reports The Huffington Post.
The South Koreans also appeared not to be trying hard at times, prompting the umpire to warn them midway through the first game. Even tournament referee Torsten Berg spoke with them, but the talk had little effect.
So, what could cause Chinese teammates Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, who are ranked No. 1, to throw a badminton match? The AP reports:
“Both teams had already topped their groups and qualified for the last 16, but the result ensured top seeds Wang and Yu avoided playing their No. 2-seeded teammates until the final.”
Both teams made simple errors, like dumping serves into the net, and the longest rally was only four strokes.
In the next match 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 losing points on purpose.
The Chinese lost their first match, with the South Koreans barely winning the second. Berg, as well as the Badminton World Federation have stated they will be investigating the matches, but Yu defended the Chinese duo, stating:
“We would try hard in every match if they were elimination games. 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.”
Yahoo! News reports that South Korean coach Sung Han-kook spoke after the match, defending the South Korean teams for their lackluster performance, saying:
“The Chinese had already started this. They did it first. It is a complicated thing with the draws. They didn’t want to meet each other in the semifinal. The [Badminton World Federation] should do something about it.”
The South Koreans filed a protest with the badminton referees, and Sung went on to say:
“It’s not like the Olympics spirit to play like this,” head coach Sung Han-kook said. “How could the No. 1 pair in the world play like this? They start playing mistakes.”
Lasse Bundgaard, the Australian coach, blamed the group format for the teams’ lackluster performance, saying:
“It’s not good when you create a tournament where the players are put in this situation,” he said. “If you can win a medal by losing, but not by winning, that’s not a good situation to be put in. I totally understand why they are doing it.”
The BBC reports that a statement from the BWF confirmed that all four Olympic badminton pairs involved will face 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.”