8 women expelled from badminton tournament
London, England (Sports Network) - Eight women's badminton players were kicked out of the London Olympics on Wednesday, accused of throwing matches in the tournament.
Four doubles teams from China, South Korea and Indonesia that had already advanced to the quarterfinals were suspected of trying to manipulate the draw of the knockout stages in their favor.
"If you ask me as a sportsman I think it is morally wrong. Once you are in the court, whether you like it or not, you should be out there to win," said Charoen Wattanasin, vice president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand and president of the Badminton Federation of Thailand.
"Something had to be done. I feel sorry for what happened but believe the disciplinary committee made the right decision."
The top-seeded Chinese team of Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China were among those expelled by the Badminton World Federation. They were accused of trying to throw a match Tuesday to avoid having to play countrywomen Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, the No. 2 team, until the gold medal final on Aug. 4.
During their match with South Korea's Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na on Tuesday, Wang and Yu repeatedly served into the net and sent smashes wide, drawing boos from the crowd. Tournament referee Torsten Berg was called to the court and warned the players. Jung and Kim were also expelled.
Later, South Korea's Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung and Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari were warned about their play by Berg, who brandished black sending-off cards threatening to expel the players, but never used them.
Those two teams were also kicked out of the games following two disciplinary cases opened by the BWF, which held hearings Wednesday morning at Wembley Arena. The bans were considered just hours after the matches ended late Tuesday night. In that time, officials looked at tape of the matches and got statements from referees and umpires.
"We felt it was important to deal with this swiftly and ensure due process was taken in a way that was of the best interest to the players," said BWF secretary general Thomas Lund.
China's Lin Dan, the No. 2 seed in men's singles, said the athletes should be given another chance "because after all the Olympics only happen once every four years and all the countries have put a lot into the game."
He called for a straight knockout round to avoid these types of situations in the future.
"I am sure many teams are playing for their (own) benefit so they don't meet the really strong opponents in the knockout round," Lin said. "Ultimately the wrong is not on the side of the athlete."
The players were charged with breaking two rules in the code of conduct -- "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."
Australian coach Lars Bundgaard, a Dane, said expelling the players was "the right thing to do."
"It sends the right signal that world badminton won't accept that kind of behavior," said Bundgaard. "It doesn't really influence us. We just thought how the incident would affect badminton. Our players will be ready to play."
The disqualified teams from Indonesia and South Korea had appeals denied by the BWF. The pairs that finished third and fourth in groups A and C, including one from Canada, were added to the quarterfinals.
India coach Pullela Gopichand accused a Japanese badminton pair of "wanting to lose" but the BWF has indicated it would not take action in the matter.
08/01 13:37:13 ET