The Indonesian Olympic women’s doubles badminton team admitted to purposefully losing a non-elimination group match to avoid playing the formidable Chinese team in the knockout round.
Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari apparently successfully avoided playing world double champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang in the hopes of drawing a weaker opponent in the knockout match — they lost to a Korean team 18-21, 21-14, 21-12 on Tuesday.
“All players want to avoid playing against Wang and Yu,” Indonesian coach Paulus Firman admitted on Wednesday, as quoted by the Indonesian Badminton Association website. “But I have instructed Greysia and Meiliana to keep on fighting. It’s alright for them to meet Wang and Yu, as long as they tried.”
The Indonesian team and six other women’s players were charged by the sport’s governing body on Wednesday with “not using one’s best efforts to win a match,” after a spate of poorly played matches, where players reportedly used the non-elimination format to purposefully lose, and thus control who they drew in future matches.
The referee threatened to disqualify the Indonesian team, but after pleading their case, the match continued.
“Both [Indonesia and Korea] players promised serious play,” Coach Paulus said. “The referee agreed to give them a last chance.”
Paulus said that the rash of thrown matches should serve as a lesson for Badminton World Federation to create a “fair method.” He complained that while the Indonesian players were nearly disqualified, Chinese players Wang and Yu, who were also accused of throwing a match, were only warned.
The Chinese powehouse, in an apparent effort to avoid facing their No. 2-seeded teammates Qiang Tian and Zhao Yunlei until the final, dumped a game to Koreans Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, who were also accused of throwing the game that was rife with errors uncharacteristic of the world’s best players.
An umpire and referee warned all four players, but it appeared to have little effect. Fans booed both teams off the court after the Chinese women lost 21-14, 21-1.
Additional Reporting by AFP and AP