The World Badminton Federation have since thrown all four teams out of the games - see here for details.
The badminton tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics descended into high farce as Chinese and South Korean teams were seemingly trying to deliberately lose the games that they were playing.
ABC News (Australia) reported that,
“Spectators at Wembley Arena jeered China's world champion doubles pair Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, and South Korean duo Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, as all four players took turns at missing routine shots to concede points in the match.”
While officials tried to figure out how to deal with the ridiculous behaviour, a second match between South Korea's Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jing and Indonesian pair Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari repeated the performance.
So bad was the performance that at one, stage officials threatened to disqualify both pairs in the second game, according to the same ABC News report.
Desperate appeals by coaching staff eventually saw the decision reversed and the teams went on to play out the remainder of the game with a little more respect for their sport.
But what could possibly motivate athletes—who have often spent their entire lives training to get to this point—to throw a game on the biggest stage in their chosen sport?
Is trying to deliberately lose a match acceptable at the Olympics?
As all four teams had qualified for the knockout stage of the competition, it is perhaps understandable that they might relax and take things a little easier. It is quite another matter, however, to rig a result to get the most advantageous draw for the next phase of competition.
While it makes sense from a cold, rational perspective, this is the Olympic Games and both the Games and their chosen sport deserve more respect than they have shown it.
To earn an Olympic gold medal, an athlete should be able to defeat all competition. More than that, however: to achieve the highest honour in their sport, the athletes should win with honour.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s oft quoted Olympic ideal of, “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well,” really struggles in the modern world.
Professional sport places profit and success above everything else, but the Olympics stand out as the last bastion of pure sporting endeavour—despite the ongoing assault from corporations and the scourge of performance enhancing drugs.
Perhaps the officials in this case should have stood their ground and thrown all four pairs out of the competition to remind us all that the Olympic Games are special and should be respected.
Let’s hope they’ve learned the lesson anyway.