Games badminton row: IOC could act against China players
The IOC could take further action -- including expulsion from the Olympics -- against the eight badminton players disqualified for discrediting their sport by trying to lose on purpose.
In an interview with The Associated Press, IOC President Jacques Rogge supported the decision by the international badminton federation to disqualify the four women's doubles teams from South Korea, China and Indonesia but said he could still intervene "if needed."
"We are in contact with the national Olympic committees to see what action they will take, and then we will decide accordingly," Rogge said.
Asked whether the International Olympic Committee could take its own action, he said: "That is a possibility if needed."
While the players have already been disqualified from the competition, the IOC has the power to formally expel athletes from the Olympics, strip their accreditations and kick them out of the athletes village.
The IOC could also investigate any team officials, coaches or trainers involved in the badminton case.
"The international federation took the right action in disqualifying the athletes and definitely that was the way to go," Rogge said.
Rogge had been at the badminton venue Tuesday but left shortly before the drama unfolded.
The doubles teams -- the top-seeded pair from China, two pairs from South Korea and one from Indonesia -- deliberately conceded points in an apparent attempt to lose their round-robin matches to secure a more favorable spot in the next round. Fans booed when it become clear they were trying to lose.
Image: IOC chief Jaques Rogge
Photographs: Lefteris Pitarakis / AP
'You cannot allow a player to abuse the tournament and not take firm action'
The Badminton World Federation found the players guilty of not giving their best efforts and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport."
South Korea and Indonesia appealed, but the BWF rejected the South Korean appeal and the Indonesia challenge was withdrawn. China accepted the federation's decision.
"Sport is competitive," IOC vice president and former badminton federation head Craig Reedie told the AP.
"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 eight disqualified players are world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China, South Korean pairs Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia's Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii.
Teams blamed the introduction of a round-robin stage rather than a straight knockout tournament as the main cause of the problem.The round-robin format can allow results to be manipulated to earn an easier matchup in the knockout round.
Image: Tournament referee Torsten Berg (2nd L) speaks to players from China and South Korea during their women's doubles group play stage Group A badminton match during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Wembley Arena on Tuesday
Photographs: Bazuki Muhammad / Reuters
Chinese badminton player blogs 'farewell' to sport
A Chinese badminton star is apparently quitting the sport after she was one of eight players disqualified from the doubles tournament at the London Olympics for trying to lose.
A comment on a verified account for Yu Yang on the Tencent microblogging service late Wednesday read: "This is my last game. Farewell Badminton World Federation. Farewell my dear badminton."
Yu and Wang Xiaoli were one of four doubles teams which appeared to play poorly on purpose to secure a more favorable position in the next phase of the event.
Two teams from South Korea and another from Indonesia were disqualified from competition but allowed to stay at the games -- a step lighter than expulsion, the penalty for positive drug tests.
It appeared to be the first mass disqualification in Olympic history.
The feeble play was obvious to fans who attended the matches Tuesday night at Wembley Arena -- they chanted, "Off! Off! Off!" -- and to incredulous television broadcasters and viewers watching around the world.
"They're serving fault and fault! They are just hitting the ball into the net!" the BBC's David Mercer said in disbelief.
"They are both trying to lose, and that is unforgivable. This is the Olympic Games."
None of the players was made available for interviews.
The official Xinhua news agency quoted Yu apologizing "to all the badminton fans and friends over yesterday's game, because we did not comply with the Olympic spirit, and did not deliver a match with our true level to the audience, the fans and the friends."
In a statement released to Xinhua, the Chinese Olympic delegation criticized its players' actions.
"The behavior by Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli on court violated the Olympics ideal and the spirit of fair play. The Chinese delegation feels distressed over this matter," the delegation said.
Xinhua also reported Chinese badminton coach Li Yongbo apologized and accepted blame for the scandal.
"As the head coach, I owe the fans and the Chinese an apology," Li said.
"Chinese players failed to demonstrate their fighting spirit of the national team. It's me to blame."
Image: Yang Yu (L) and Xiaoli Wang (right) of China
Photographs: Michael Regan / Getty Images