The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has disqualified eight players for "not using best efforts to win" in yesterday's round robin stage of the Olympic badminton tournament.
The players, two pairs from South Korea and one pair from China and Indonesia, were disqualified from the Olympics following yesterday's matches, which were characterised by basic errors. The players were all accused of deliberately attempting to lose their matches, in order to gain a more favourable draw in the next round, according to BBC News.
The players had been jeered and booed by the crowds who watched in disbelief as they witnessed performances that were by any standards extremely poor. Indeed, in the match between South Koreans Ha Jung-Eun and Kim Min-Jung and Indonesian pair Meiliana Juahari and Greysia Polii, match referee Berg brandished a black card, disqualifying the players. This decision was, however, rescinded.
Lord Coe, of LOCOG (the Organising Committee), has been very vocal in his condemnation of the behaviour of the players. He has characterised the situation as "depressing" and "unacceptable", saying that spectators should not have had to sit through the performances. Nevertheless, LOCOG said it will not refund tickets for the matches, according to Business Dorset.
Gail Emms, a former Olympic badminton medalist described the scenes as "un-Olympic", according to Metro Radio, and said she was "furious".
China's Yu Yang offered a very different interpretation, claiming that they were merely, having already qualified for the knock-out stage, attempting to conserve their energy. Whilst the disappointment of the spectators may be readily understood, it seems the players were merely responding tactically to the structure of the competition. It may well be that rather than disciplining players for perceived lack of effort, it would have been better to avoid the problem by the simple expedient of organising the tournament on a knock-out basis. In fact, according to the Independent, it transpires that the governing body, the BWF, has not followed its own regulations for arranging fixtures in the group stage of the tournament.
Both the Indonesians and Koreans have appealed against the decision. The outcomes of the appeals are expected to be announced this evening.