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China Tells Olympic Badminton Players to Apologize

China Tells Badminton Players to Apologize as One Quits Sports
Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli’s match against Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na drew a caution from the umpire and jeers from spectators after the two teams appeared to serve directly into the net or struck easy shots long or wide. Photographer: -/AFP/Getty Images

China ordered the two badminton players thrown out of the London Olympics for deliberately playing poorly to issue public apologies as one of the women involved said she’s quitting the sport.

Yu Yang, 26, and her partner Wang Xiaoli, 23, were among four pairs expelled by the Badminton World Federation yesterday for “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” during the women’s doubles competition at the London games. Two South Korean pairs and one from Indonesia were also expelled for trying to manipulate their match ups for the knockout round of the tournament by losing.

Yu said today on Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Twitter-like microblog service the July 30 doubles match was her last.

“Goodbye Badminton World Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton,” Yu wrote in a post. “You broke our dreams ruthlessly. The whole thing is just so simple. It’s not complex, but it’s unforgivable.”

Yu and Wang’s expulsion prompted criticism in China, with Yin Hong, deputy head of Tsinghua University’s journalism school, writing on his microblog that the incident was “quality education for our citizens that not all principles can be ignored for the sake of benefit.” The central government posted a Xinhua News Agency report on its website that cited the Chinese delegation as saying Yu’s and Wang’s behavior “violated” the Olympic spirit.

The other disqualified players were Jung Kyung Eun, Kim Ha Na, Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung of South Korea, and Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii from Indonesia.

Coach’s Apology

Li Yongbo, head coach of the Chinese badminton team, was also told to apologize after an investigation by China’s Olympic sports delegation, Xinhua reported.

“As head coach, I owe the supporters of Chinese badminton and the Chinese TV audiences an apology,” Xinhua cited Li as saying late yesterday. “Chinese players failed to demonstrate the fine tradition and fighting spirit of the national team. It’s me who’s to blame.”

Yu and Wang’s match against Jung and Kim drew a caution from the umpire and jeers from spectators after the two teams appeared to serve directly into the net or struck easy shots long or wide.

On her microblog today, Yu said she and her partner were playing with injuries and were trying to give themselves a better chance in the knockout stages of the doubles competition, which included a group phase for the first time during the London Olympics.

Playing Hurt

“We got hurt and we just wanted to give up the game by using the rules to have a better performance in the knockout stages,” Yu added.

Indonesia called on the sport’s governing body to review how the competition was organized.

“Indonesia always honors the values and the spirit of the Olympics and fair play,” Andi Mallarangeng, the country’s Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, said in a statement posted on the Indonesian Badminton Association’s website. “We respect the Badminton World Federation’s decision, but we ask the federation to review the competition format.”

South Korea defeated China in the Group A match 2-0 to set up a meeting with another Chinese pair, Tian Quing and Zhao Yunlei. By losing, Yu and Wang, the world champions and top seeds, had avoided playing their compatriots until the final.

The behavior was repeated in the next match between South Korea’s Ha and Kim and Indonesia’s Jauhari and Polii. Both teams were also warned for deliberately trying to lose.

The behavior of the players, described as “unacceptable” and “depressing” yesterday by Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organizing committee, was also met with condemnation in South Korea.

The Chosun Ilbo newspaper said in front-page headline on that the Korean teams had “forgot something more precious than medals,” while the JoongAng Ilbo ran a story saying that the players had “damaged the Olympics spirit and embarrassed the nation.”

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