|There is a scandal among the shuttlecocks in London. (Getty Images)|
From the New York Times:
Officials from the Badminton World Federation, the sport's governing body, determined that the four sets of women violated the Players' Code of Conduct, Sections 4.5 and 4.6, 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.”
In two separate matches, the players appeared to be trying to serve into the net and hitting shots wide out of bounds. Their play led to hoots and catcalls from the packed house at Wembley Arena, with some fans yelling, “Off, off, off.” The shouting and boos cascaded over a match on a nearby court. In one match, a Danish umpire warned the players that they risked being tossed by flashing a black card, a rare action in the sport.
Via Business Insider, here's video of the match in question as both teams intentionally serve into the net:
The players involved had already qualified for the quarterfinals, so the matches involved were for who they would play. Essentially, this is analagous to tanking at the end of the regular season in basketball or football for a better draw in the playoffs. But organizers were upset early Monday in London, via Reuters:
"This is not acceptable," said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. "They (federation) have a clause in their rules that athletes have to make their best efforts. They are the ones with the expertise and we support them."
The players involved were China's world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari and two South Korean pairs - Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung.
The fact that the players were serving to the net is not a great job of hiding their efforts, and you have to wonder if they even considered officials' reaction in their play whatsoever. They may have just assumed that because this would be the smart thing to do and as they clearly wanted to win, just not in those specific matches, that the officials wouldn't freak out over them.
And freak they did. From the AP:
Erick Thohir, the head of Indonesia's Olympic team, told The Associated Press that the Indonesian team will appeal. He also accused China of losing on purpose in the past.
"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."
IOC Vice President Craig Reedie, the former head of the international badminton federation, welcomed the decision.
"Sport is competitive," Reedie told the AP. "If you lose the competitive element, then the whole thing becomes a nonsense.
Some players are blaming the design of the tournament for setting this up, and four of the players are in the process of an appeal. We'll keep you up on this.