Losing on purpose at the Olympics

Badminton players from China, South Korea, and Indonesia, were expelled from the Olympics for intentionally losing–they just hit the birdie into the net over and over–so that they would draw easier opponents and avoid competing against another national team in the tournament:

Eight badminton players at the London Olympics were kicked out of competition Wednesday for trying to lose — a display that drew outrage from fans and organizers who said the women had violated the most sacred stage in sports.

After an unexpected loss by a powerful Chinese doubles team, the eight women appeared to play poorly on purpose to secure a more favorable position in the next phase of the event.

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.”

The eight doubles players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were cited by the Badminton World Federation for “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.”

[+] EnlargeBadminton

AP Photo/Andres LeightonReferee Torsten Berg, second from right, talks to South Korean coach Sung Han-kook, right, after Berg issued a black card to the players in the women’s doubles match between South Korea and Indonesia.

The 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. They were disqualified from competition but allowed to stay at the Games — a step lighter than expulsion, the penalty for positive drug tests.

“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.”

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.

The Chinese players tried to rig the draw after China’s second-seeded pair unexpectedly lost to a Danish team in the morning. That placed the No. 2 pair on course for a semifinal meeting with Wang and Yu, instead of the final.

Wang and Yu then deliberately set out to lose so they would go into the bottom half of the draw. They hardly exerted themselves, and neither did the South Koreans, drawing jeers of derision from the crowd and warnings from the umpire and tournament referee Torsten Berg. Wang and Yu eventually got what they wanted by losing.

After the match, Yu said his team was only trying to save energy for the knockout rounds, which start Wednesday.

Later, Yu said he was quitting the sport.

A comment on a verified account for Yu on the Tencent microblogging service late Wednesday read: “This is my last game. Farewell Badminton World Federation. Farewell my dear badminton.”

An hour later, the South Korean team of Ha and Kim took to the court and decided also to try to lose to the Indonesians to avoid meeting Wang and Yu in the quarterfinals. Early on, all four players were warned by the umpire for not trying hard, and Berg returned and produced black cards to disqualify both pairs, but the cards were rescinded on a promise of better play.

In the third game, Berg reappeared to urge them to finish, and the Indonesians ended up being better at losing than Ha and Kim, who fell into the playoff they didn’t want with the world champions.

South Korea and Indonesia appealed the disqualification, but the BWF rejected the South Korean appeal and Indonesia’s challenge was withdrawn. China had accepted the federation’s earlier decision.

via 2012 London Olympics — Eight badminton players disqualified for trying to lose matches – ESPN.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    I’m really intrigued by the “black card” thing. I’m more conversant with soccer in which a yellow card gets you a warning and a red card gets you ejected from the game. If a black card were to be added to the ref’s armamentarium, what would it portend – summary execution? Chilling.

  • Pete

    I’m really intrigued by the “black card” thing. I’m more conversant with soccer in which a yellow card gets you a warning and a red card gets you ejected from the game. If a black card were to be added to the ref’s armamentarium, what would it portend – summary execution? Chilling.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    This attitude of ‘complete control’ over someone has always been so foreign to Americans.

    But with the new crop of utopian statists being pumped out of our public schools, this type of control is also becoming acceptable by Americans.

    If one wants to not play as hard as they can and save their best pitcher for game 7, then so be it.

    People. “They’re no damn good.” (my pastor’s dad – also a pastor, retired)

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    This attitude of ‘complete control’ over someone has always been so foreign to Americans.

    But with the new crop of utopian statists being pumped out of our public schools, this type of control is also becoming acceptable by Americans.

    If one wants to not play as hard as they can and save their best pitcher for game 7, then so be it.

    People. “They’re no damn good.” (my pastor’s dad – also a pastor, retired)

  • Random Lutheran

    Here’s the thing: while the individual matches may not have been played according to regulations, they were playing the game according to the tournament rules, which is only logical. As in the example in #2 above, of the best pitcher in game 7, this is a reasonable, logical, and sensible decision, and is aimed at winning the whole shebang rather than just an individual match. What they did was perfectly fine.

    But then there are so many things about the Olympics that are just stupid: only two from any one nation in the Gymnastics individual finals, the horrific boxing decision the other day (thankfully overturned; this sort of thing is commonplace — see Roy Jones, Jr.), and so many of the “sports” really aren’t, because they involve judges rather than times/scoring/winning.

  • Random Lutheran

    Here’s the thing: while the individual matches may not have been played according to regulations, they were playing the game according to the tournament rules, which is only logical. As in the example in #2 above, of the best pitcher in game 7, this is a reasonable, logical, and sensible decision, and is aimed at winning the whole shebang rather than just an individual match. What they did was perfectly fine.

    But then there are so many things about the Olympics that are just stupid: only two from any one nation in the Gymnastics individual finals, the horrific boxing decision the other day (thankfully overturned; this sort of thing is commonplace — see Roy Jones, Jr.), and so many of the “sports” really aren’t, because they involve judges rather than times/scoring/winning.

  • Joe
  • Joe
  • Cincinnatus

    Cheating in sports has existed since the beginning of sports.

    But cheating in the Olympics is a practiced art form. While I suppose these Olympics bear no comparison to the science experiments known as East German swimmers or the famously biased gymnastics and figure-skating judges from the Soviet bloc, they already seem to me to be far more scandal-riven, from a sporting (not business) perspective, than most other Olympiads since the end of the Cold War.

  • Cincinnatus

    Cheating in sports has existed since the beginning of sports.

    But cheating in the Olympics is a practiced art form. While I suppose these Olympics bear no comparison to the science experiments known as East German swimmers or the famously biased gymnastics and figure-skating judges from the Soviet bloc, they already seem to me to be far more scandal-riven, from a sporting (not business) perspective, than most other Olympiads since the end of the Cold War.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I would suggest that if it’s possible to gain an advantage by intentionally losing a game, then maybe the powers-that-be might want to restructure the tournament to eliminate that loophole.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I would suggest that if it’s possible to gain an advantage by intentionally losing a game, then maybe the powers-that-be might want to restructure the tournament to eliminate that loophole.

  • RomGabe

    I am just finishing “God at Work – your Christian Vocation in all of Life” by Gene Veith …

    & I think these players were going against their vocation – to be sportsmanlike athletes (or in this case “sportswomenline athletes”)

  • RomGabe

    I am just finishing “God at Work – your Christian Vocation in all of Life” by Gene Veith …

    & I think these players were going against their vocation – to be sportsmanlike athletes (or in this case “sportswomenline athletes”)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mike – that is what they are going to do, apparently. No more round-robins.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Mike – that is what they are going to do, apparently. No more round-robins.


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