London 2012: Korean, Indonesian Olympic Badminton Players Appeal Disqualification
UPDATED: Sports and media celebrities go online to comment and condemn after eight players ejected in match fixing scandal.
The Korean and Indonesian badminton players disqualified from competition at the London Olympics following yesterday's match fixing scandal have appealed the decision.
South Korean women's doubles players Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-n and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung as well as Indonesia`s badminton duo Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii were disqualified along with badminton world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China. The Chinese team has not appealed.
A disciplinary commitee of the Badminton World Federation on Wednesday found all eight athletes 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 a statement Wednesday, the federation said it would listen to the Korean and Indonesian appeals and would hold a press conference following its final decision on the matter.
The federation earlier ruled the women had deliberately fixed first-round matches in order to secure an easier opponent in the quarterfinal knockout rounds.
The scandal involves two matches played Tuesday night, in which the teams appeared to commit deliberate errors in order to lose.
Media coverage in the U.K. on Wednesday morning, including segments on BBC News and others, put a spotlight on the latest controversy at the London Games while the scandal set the Internet alight with comment and condemnation.
"#Badminton federation did the right thing kicking out the 8 who tried to lose," tweeted ABC News commentator and USA Today Sports Columnist Christine Brennan while CNN host Piers Morgan commented: "As for those Badminton players deliberately trying to lose -- throw them all out of the Olympics, and refund ticket money. Outrageous," he tweeted.
Meanwhile Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Games, called the match-fixing incident "depressing and unacceptable."
At least one celebrity athlete, however, defended the women.
"Don't blame the athletes, they were just playing the format to give them the best chance of winning long term," tweeted British rower Zac Purchase, a gold medal winner in Beijing.
There didn't seem to be any immediate impact of the scandal on TV coverage or scheduling in the U.K. Asked if the scandal would change TV coverage plans, a BBC Sports spokesman told The Hollywood Reporter, "No, it shouldn't."
In the first match that led to the investigation, badminton world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China, facing South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, repeatedly served into the net and lost in straight sets, drawing shouts and jeers from spectators in the arena. The scene was repeated in the next women's doubles match between South Korea`s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia`s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii, which the Korean team lost and in which referees warned both pairs for deliberately losing points.
The disciplinary hearing Wednesday investigated allegations that the Chinese team, which already had qualified for the knockout rounds, deliberately lost their match to avoid meeting their No. 2-seeded Chinese teammates until the final. The Korean players allegedly copied the Chinese women's tactics in the second match against Indonesia.
China's official Xinhua News Agency cited an unnamed spokesman for the Chinese delegation as saying the delegation was taking the incident seriously and had ordered its own investigation.
This is the second major scandal linked to Team China at this year's Olympics. It follows accusations of doping aimed at 16-year-old swimmer Ye Shiwen after she broke the world record and won gold in the 400-meter individual medley, swimming the final 50 meters faster than Ryan Lochte of the U.S. did in the men's race.
John Leonard, executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, called Ye's performance "disturbing," suggesting she might have used illicit substances to boost her performance. The swimmer has never failed a drug test, and she and Team China have denied all doping accusations.
Georg Szalai in London contributed to this report.