LONDON - The Badminton World Federation confirms it has disqualified eight female badminton players from China, South Korea and Indonesia from the Olympics doubles competition for trying to lose matches to receive a more favorable draw.
The federation found the players guilty 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" in matches Tuesday night.
Players were roundly booed after they appeared not to exert themselves in preliminary rounds of the round-robin tournament before they were set to move on to elimination competition.
Early Wednesday, the Indonesian pair and both Korean pairs appealed the decision. There was no immediate word on the Chinese.
Then late Wednesday afternoon local time, the Federation announced it had rejected the Korean appeals and that Indonesia had withdrawn its appeal.
According to Niels Nygaard, president of Denmark's National Olympic Committee, this type of play has been "a problem" in other international competitions during qualifying rounds. It crept into the Olympics because this was the first time the Games is holding qualifying rounds rather than all elimination play.
"This was a very good action to take," said Nygaard, who adds that Badminton is very popular in Denmark where 125,000 people play. "It's very important that the players play their best at all times. They always should be expected to play their best."
Martin Kranitz, Germany's badminton team leader, said the federation's decision was "necessary."
"You cannot accept that players manipulate the game," Kranitz said, adding that he witnessed Tuesday's disputed matches. "It was unbelievable. Everybody could see this. This produces a negative image for badminton and a bad image of China."
Kranitz said about 220,000 people play for organized badminton clubs in Germany.
Badminton is not the only sport where competitors did not play to win here. On Wednesday, the coach of the Japanese women's soccer team said he had his team play for a 0-0 tie with South Africa on Tuesday to avoid having to travel to Scotland for the quarterfinals. The outcome left Japan second in Group F, meaning it will now play either Britain or Brazil in Cardiff on Friday. If it had won the match, it would have faced the top-ranked United States or France, another strong team, in Glasgow, also on Friday.
Japan coach Norio Sasaki used substitutes in the second half and told them to keep possession and not score, based on how the other match in Group F was going. In that match, Canada drew 2-2 with Sweden, meaning Sweden topped the group. "It was a different way of playing compared to the usual game, but the players were on the same page as me," he said.
The eliminated badminton players are world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yan 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 doubles pairs were all due to compete in quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon.
China's Lin Dan, the No. 2-ranked men's singles player, said through an interpreter the sport is going to be damaged.
"Especially for the audience," he said before the disqualifications were announced. "This is definitely not within the Olympic spirit. But like I said before, it's not one-sided. Whoever sets the rule should make it knockout so whoever doesn't try will just leave the Olympics."
In one of Tuesday night's matches, pitting Chinese players Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yan against Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na of South Korea, the players appeared to deliberately serve into the net, triggering a warning from the referee.
The federation examined whether the Chinese players sought to throw the match so that they would not have to meet another Chinese pair in the next round.
A similar controversy erupted a short time later involving another South Korean pair and their Indonesian opponents.
The performances prompted broad condemnation from both the International Olympic Committee and London Olympics chief Sebastian Coe, who said the play was "unacceptable.''
"It's depressing,'' Coe said. "Who wants to sit through something like that. It is unacceptable.''
IOC spokesman Mark Adams also expressed dissatisfaction, saying that the group would support the federation's review.
But London organizers said they would not provide refunds to the spectators at the questioned events.
London Olympics operations director Paul Deighton said the tickets to the disputed events also provided spectators with access to other matches that were not questioned.
"It wasn't a one-off game,'' Deighton said. "No one has asked for a refund.''
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY