The first scandal of the London Olympics has taken place and it involves badminton, of all sports. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is meeting this morning to decide whether or not to expel eight female badminton competitors (4 doubles teams) from the competition for purposefully losing their matches in order to secure more favorable draws in the upcoming quarter-finals.
The accused include the Chinese world champion pair, an Indonesian team and two South Korean teams. The Telegraph reports that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken "unprecedented steps" to prevent match-fixing, which was described by the current IOC President as the biggest threat to the integrity of the games. Another Olympic official described the situation as "extremely serious" and said the IOC would consider stepping in if the BWF did not act.
It is alleged that the Chinese pair deliberately lost their match so that they would not play their fellow Chinese nationals, ranked No. 2 in the world, until the gold medal game.
South's Korea's coach Sung Han-kook admitted his two pairs threw their matches against the Chinese and Indonesians, but that it was in response to the Chinese team's initial efforts to purposely lose. This lead to the highly unusual spectacle that was two teams playing one another who were both trying to lose the match. The spectators booed vigorously as both teams repeatedly hit serves into the net and deliberately missed shots.
The WBF made a statement saying that the pairs have been charged with "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport."
All four pairs under suspicion are expected to meet today in the quarter-finals. Were they all to be expelled, it would take out half of the women's pairs draw.
(A note of clarification: there has been no indication that this match-fixing was in any way related to gambling or coerced by any outside influences).
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