LONDON — Four badminton teams were kicked out of the women’s doubles at the London Games on Wednesday for trying to lose on purpose, conduct that a top IOC executive said strikes at the heart of Olympic competition.
“We have to be clear, there has been a problem here and we have to take that problem very seriously,” BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said. “There are things we can improve on and look at after this competition.”
The competition was to continue later Wednesday with four previously eliminated teams in the quarterfinals. Russian pair Valeria Sorokina and Nina Vislova, and Canadian team Alex Bruce and Michele Li now advance from Group A. Australian pair Leanne Choo and Renuga Veeran and South African duo Michelle Edwards and Annari Viljoen go through from Group C.
Before the decision was announced, Indonesia Olympic team leader Erick Thohir accused Chinese players of losing on purpose in the past.
“China has been doing this so many times and they never get sanctioned by the BWF,” Thohir said. “On the first game yesterday when China did it, the BWF didn’t do anything. If the BWF do something on the first game and they say you are disqualified, it is a warning for everyone.”
IOC Vice President Craig Reedie, the former head of the international badminton federation, welcomed the decision to kick the four teams out.
“Sport is competitive,” 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 and their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, along with South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii.
The players went before a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, a day after spectators at the arena booed their performance after it became clear they were deliberately trying to lose.
Paul Deighton, chief executive officer of the London organizers, said there would be no refunds for the evening’s badminton program. Chairman Sebastian Coe called what happened “depressing,” adding “who wants to sit through something like that?”