London 2012 has had its fair share of controversies, the latest among them being the disqualification of eight female badminton players. These eight athletes, belonging to China, South Korea and Indonesia, face an inglorious exit from London for trying to deliberately lose their matches. Why would anybody want to lose and especially in the Olympics?
Though it might sound like a million-dollar question, the answer is quite simple. They were trying to avoid tougher opponents in the knock-out stages. Before getting to the specifics, a quick look at the event structure. The sixteen teams taking part in the badminton doubles were divided into four groups of four teams each. The top two teams of each group are decided by a round-robin format and they progress to the quarter-finals.
The Chinese pair Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, one of the gold-medal contenders of the competition, suffered a shock defeat in their group D encounter with the Danish pair of Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl. This loss meant that they finished second in the group and had a potential face-off with Group B members and fellow Chinese Xiaoli Wang and Yang Yu, another team that was in contention for the gold, in the semi-finals instead of the finals. Eager to avoid a semi-final clash with their compatriots, Wang and Yu, who had already secured passage to the quarters, deliberately tried to lose their group match by serving the birdie into or under the net against the Koreans Ha Na Kim and Kyung Eun Jung. In a rotten turn of events, the Koreans too had qualified for the quarters and deployed the same strategy against the Chinese. The Chinese ultimately lost the match.
Almost an hour later, a similar set of events happened in Group C as well as another South Korean pair and an Indonesian pair intentionally tried to lose the match. Both teams had ample reasons to lose. Had the South Korean pair Jung Eun Ha and Min Jung Kim won, they would have faced fellow country-men in the quarters. On the other hand, had the Indonesians won, they would have faced the mighty Chinese, who had successfully lost to the Koreans just an hour ago, in the semis.
All the four teams were disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct and behaviour that was detrimental to the spirit of the game. Ironically, their disqualification has only made life easier for the top teams, who now face easier opponents in their forth-coming fixtures.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.