The four women's doubles pairs at the centre of a match-fixing scandal at the London 2012 badminton tournament have been disqualified.
The top seeds from China, two pairs from South Korea and another from Indonesia deliberately missed shots in an apparent attempt to lose their matches in order to influence their position in the next round of the competition.
All eight players had been charged by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) with "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".
The disqualified players are:
- China: Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli
- South Korea: Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na
- South Korea: Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung
- Indonesia: Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii
The head of the Indonesian Olympic team Erick Thohirhas said that his team will appeal against their disqualification, the Associated Press reports.
Earlier the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, published a strongly-worded editorial condemning two Chinese badminton players.
The Chinese pair, Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, as well as two pairs from South Korea and one from Indonesia are accused of trying to lose in an attempt to manipulate a draw.
This behaviour seriously violated the Olympic spirit regarding fair play...Even if they finally win the gold medal...maybe the audience won't give them any applause.
In sport, morality should come before anything else. Whoever violated the rules should be criticised and looked down upon.
Jacques Rogge (IOC President) left the arena just before this game, we wonder what he would have thought had he seen this game.
All the players were booed by an irate crowd as serves were deliberately hit into the net and shots hit wide and long on an embarrassing evening for the sport.
All four pairs had already qualified for the last eight meaning the only thing at stake were the final placings in the group stage.
The fiasco began when Chinese top seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang started to show little interest in beating Koreans Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na to finish top of Group A.
Coming second would have meant avoiding compatriots and second seeds Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei - who earlier lost to a Danish pair - at least until the final.
The Koreans responded to China's antics by copying them, prompting referee Thorsten Berg to warn all the players. The match restarted and the Koreans went on to win 21-14, 21-11. The longest rally in the first game had been just four shots.
The matter did not end there as a second Korean pair, the third seeds Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung, then attempted to engineer defeat in their match against Indonesia's Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii.
Their motive was apparent retaliation to avoid Wang and Yu in the quarter-finals, an outcome they failed to achieve as they eventually won 18-21, 21-14, 21-12.
The Indonesians were not bystanders in the affair either as they responded to the Koreans by trying to lose themselves.
Berg again intervened and brandished the black card to disqualify the players but quickly rescinded his decision on protest. However, the histrionics - now including time-wasting - continued as the crowd became increasingly restless.
– Sung Han-kook, Korea's coach
The Chinese started this. They did it first. It is a complicated thing with the draws. They didn't want to meet each other in the semi-final, they don't want that to happen. They [BWF] should do something about that.
Yu claimed the Chinese tactics had been to preserve energy ahead of the knockout phase.
– Yu Yang, China
Actually these opponents really were strong. This is the first time we've played them and tomorrow it's the knockout rounds, so we've already qualified and we wanted to have more energy for the knockout rounds.
Gail Emms, a British Olympic silver medallist in 2004, has called the episode "embarrassing" and called for the four pairs to be disqualified. She told the BBC's Five Live radio:
– Gail Emms, British Olympic silver medallist
If badminton wants to save face I personally feel they should disqualify the four pairs and re-instate the pairs who came third and fourth in the group and then have a better competition. You cannot do this in an Olympic Games, this is something that is not acceptable and it just makes not only our sport but the organisers and the poor crowd who had to watch, who pay good money to watch two matches ... It was just disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful. I would disqualify them.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge had been at the badminton but had left shortly before the drama unfolded.