The Badminton World Federation announced on Wednesday that eight female doubles players had been disqualified from the Olympics because they were trying to lose matches in order to gain a more favorable spot in the tournament. Two teams from South Korea, one team from Indonesia and one team from China were disqualified. The teams were punished for “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” during matches that took place Tuesday night.
“We applaud the federation for having taken swift and decisive action,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “Such behavior is incompatible with the Olympic values.”
The head of the Indonesia Olympic team, Erick Thohir, said that his team will appeal the decision. South Korea said it will appeal as well. Chinese players have been accused of losing on purpose in the past, according to Thohir.
“China has been doing this so many times and they never get sanctioned by the BWF,” Thohir said. “On the first game yesterday when China did it, the BWF didn’t do anything. If the BWF do something on the first game and they say you are disqualified, it is a warning for everyone.”
Craig Reedie, the IOC Vice President and former leader of the international badminton federation, said, “Sport is competitive. If you lose the competitive element, then the whole thing becomes a nonsense. You cannot allow a player to abuse the tournament like that, and not take firm action. So good on them.”
The players who have been disqualified from the Olympics include world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China and their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, along with South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii. All of the players had been booed by fans on Tuesday because fans realized the players were purposely trying to lose.
The tanking problem has been blamed by teams on the start of a round-robin stage instead of a knockout tournament. If a team loses a game in the round-robin tournament they might be placed into a better matchup in the following rounds.
The world’s number 2 ranked men’s singles player, Lin Dan from China, said that the sport will now be tarnished.
“Especially for the audience,” he said just before the players were disqualified. “This is definitely not within the Olympic spirit. But like I said before, it’s not one-sided. Whoever sets the rule should make it knockout so whoever doesn’t try will just leave the Olympics.”
Gail Emms, a badminton player who won silver in Beijing said, “It was absolutely shocking. The crowds were booing and chanting ‘Off, off, off.’”