Players face match-throwing charges

Halstead Gazette: China's Yu Yang, left, and Wang Xiaoli talk while playing against Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, of South Korea (AP/Andres Leighton) China's Yu Yang, left, and Wang Xiaoli talk while playing against Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, of South Korea (AP/Andres Leighton)

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has launched disciplinary proceedings after four women's doubles pairs apparently tried to throw matches at London 2012.

In scenes of farce at Wembley Arena on Tuesday night, a pair from China, two from South Korea and another from Indonesia seemed to want to lose in an attempt to manipulate the draw.

A statement from the BWF confirmed that all four pairs would 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". A disciplinary hearing will be held later with a decision announced in due course.

At present all four pairs are included in the order of play with their quarter-finals scheduled for the evening session.

All the players were booed by an irate crowd as serves were deliberately hit into the net and shots hit wide and long on an embarrassing evening for the sport. All four pairs had already qualified for the last eight meaning that the only issues at stake were the final placings in the first-round group stage.

The fiasco began when Chinese top seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang started to show little interest in beating Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na to finish top of Group A. Coming second would have meant avoiding compatriots and second seeds Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei at least until the final. Tian and Zhao had been sent off their natural path to the final as second seeds by defeat to Denmark's Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen earlier in the day.

The Koreans responded to China's antics by copying them and referee Thorsten Berg emerged to warn all the players. The match restarted and the Koreans went on to win 21-14 21-11. The startling statistic revealed the longest rally in the first game had been just four strokes.

The matter did not end there as a second Korean pair, the third seeds Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, then attempted to engineer defeat in their match against Indonesia's Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii. Their motive was apparent retaliation to avoid Wang and Yu in the quarter-finals, an outcome they failed to achieve as they eventually won 18-21 21-14 21-12. The Indonesians responded to the Koreans by trying to lose themselves.

With the crowd getting increasingly restless, Berg again intervened and brandished the black card to disqualify the players. He quickly rescinded his decision on protest but returned courtside, despite an attempt to restrain him by the Indonesia coach, as the histrionics - now including time-wasting - continued.

Speaking after chairing the latest daily ministerial Olympics meeting in Whitehall, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the audience at the badminton had "a right to feel very, very let down by what happened".

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