Saturday, February 13, 2016
Don't say I didn't warn you... Badminton cheating by the Chinese is nothing new
When China played China, 19.8 per cent of games did not reach a conclusion. And when China played anyone else? The figure dropped to 0.21 per cent. No doubt the Chinese athletes said there was nothing untoward in those figures, too. At these Olympics, this is a line we have been hearing a lot.
It was at this point, however, when the evidence was so overwhelming, that the Badminton World Federation should have felt compelled to act. China were expected to win every gold medal at the London Olympic Games and all reasonable evidence suggested that the athletes and coaches at the pinnacle of the sport were behaving in a nefarious manner. Instead, a blind eye was turned. Today, the reputation of badminton is in tatters.
Named and shamed (clockwise from top left): China's Wang Xiaoli (L) and Yang Yu, South Korea's Jung Kyung Eun (Top) and Kim Ha Na, Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari and South Korea's Ha Jung-eun (L) and Kim Min-jung
The sport has rightly expelled eight athletes from the Olympic women’s event, but it is too late. Charges will be brought but not all of the culprits are in the dock. Chinese badminton has conspired, literally, in this degradation of sporting contest, tainting rival associations with their behaviour but throughout they have been abetted by those with a duty of care. It is pathetic that the BWF are posturing as men of action now, when for years they have indulged the most obvious cheating.
Every bit as blatant, in fact, as what occurred at Wembley Arena on Tuesday night when Chinese second seeds Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei upset the odds by losing a group game to Danish pair Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen.
This placed them in the same half of the knockout draw as Chinese top seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, meaning a gold and silver double would be impossible unless Wang and Yang lost, which they then attempted to do. Sensing this their opponents, Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na of South Korea, tried to lose too, but failed. Then the next pairs, from South Korea and Indonesia, played to get beat. A very genteel crowd turned ugly and with good reason. Far from justifying the cost of the tickets and the trip, this occasion was worthless, bankrupt.
Caught out: An official speaks to players from China and South Korea
The shuttlers had become throwers and in doing so had cheated everybody. The sport, the Olympic ideal, their fellow athletes, but most scurrilously, the fans. The athletes’ Olympic oath, read at the opening ceremony, is a little woolly on fixing, although it would be hard to argue that what occurred at Wembley Arena was in ‘the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams’. The regulations of the BWF are more specific, however. Rule 4.5 deliberately outlaws ‘not using one’s best efforts to win’ in a list of offences worthy of fierce sanction. A pity nobody thought to apply the rulebook before the Olympics were besmirched, and three pairs led astray by China’s manipulation.
Indeed, spare a little thought for six of the banned, at least. Jung and Kim, plus Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min Jung of South Korea, and Indonesian pair Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari. What they did was wrong, but they were only responding to the action of the Chinese. If they had done their best, the Chinese would have got away with schedule arrangement, as they have done for years.
Wise before the event: Chris Adcock spoke out earlier this year
Chris Adcock of Great Britain spoke out against match-fixing earlier this year. ‘The statistics speak for themselves,’ he said. ‘With the depth China has, they can sway and manipulate matches to their advantage. Some matches you watch are clearly thrown. Unfortunately it is now part of the game but in Olympic year it’s not what the sport is about and it is up to the rest of the world to stop it.’
And what happened? Nothing.
A year ago, the BWF began to monitor same-country draws, yet no penalties were issued and no irregularities discovered.This latest development, beneath the gaze of the world at the most high-profile sporting competition in the world, is a public humiliation: but no more than the sport deserves. Anything that is not stopped is encouraged and the officials at the top of badminton have been letting the cheats win for too long.