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Friday, August 3, 2012

The badminton fiasco at Olympics and Yu Yang retires..

A taint in the game would never go – Cricket’s image stands tarnished by allegations of ‘match fixing’ and now you view every close finish with suspicion.  Badminton was one of the interesting sports which generally was not linked to cheating, or fixing scandals. 

In this Olympics Chinese have dominated every sport and the win by Le Shiewen was questioned by commentators unable to digest the speed shown in the last 50 M.  In every game, upsets are possible – the top seed could get eliminated or if it is round robin, a solitary win can change the way the teams are stacked up.  There are also possibilities that the same Nation can have more than a single team in which case, they would not want to play amongst themselves – to have more option of reaching to the top and getting more medal.  The medal aspirants would also like to face tougher opponents on top phase, so that their medal prospects are brighter.  Sounds common logic, but what would Teams do to achieve this ?

At Olympic,  in women Doubles there were 4 groups and 16 teams at fray.  Group A : Korea, China, Russia, Canada;  B – Taipei, Japan, India, Singapore; C- Korea, Indonesia, Australia, South Africa; D- Denmark, China, Japan, Hungary.  In a major upset the second string Chinese pair of Qing Tian and Zhao Yunlei had lost to Denmark leaving them runners up in Group D, instead of winners as the seeding predicted.

The format being that the runner up in D would play winner of B and if winning will have to play winner of Group A Vs runner of Group C and thus the two China teams could clash at the Semi finals stage itself, which would make a Podium finish of Gold & Silver improbable.  Chinese team wanted to avoid this and for doing this, they needed to be runners-up in Group A which meant losing their last group game against low opponents South KoreaSouth Korea 1 also wanted to avoid facing China in the semi-finals and they also decided to lose.  The Indonesians were far better as they were able to dodge both Chinese pairings in their next match.

And after all the calculations – the line up was :  South Korea 1 Vs Indonesia; Taipei Vs China 2 in one half and on the other – South Korea 2 Vs China 1; Denmark Vs Japan.  So, it was more of losing to become victorious, rather plotting to be victorious by losing – thus denying the paying spectators the pleasure of decent matches – the pleasure of watching teams fighting out to win. 

The Games body was peeved and the London Olympic organizing committee’s chairman, Sebastian Coe, said the incident was depressing and unacceptable.  Sure this was not the first time such thing had happened in a tournament’s group stage – not the only time when teams throw the game away. 

It was widely reported that the coach of Japan women’s Olympic soccer team acknowledged that it intentionally avoided scoring in its third and final group game, a 0-0 draw with winless South Africa on Wednesday.  Japan would have won its four-team group with a victory. But a draw put it in second, just enough to qualify for the knockout stage.  The Coach was reported sayint that he did it to ensure the team didn’t travel across the United Kingdom. Second place meant it would start the knockout round in Cardiff, Wales, where the squad already was.

Coming back the Authorities after an enquiry into the badminton incident, decided to disqualify 4 teams for not trying to win their last group games.   Group stages are designed to let the best teams rise to the top, but still give all squads a fair shot over a number of games before elimination. All participants in the Olympics badminton tournament got a minimum of three games, whereas a single-elimination tournament, or even a double-elimination, would have seen some teams go home sooner.  Now, all the eight women involved in last night's badminton match-throwing scandal have been kicked out of the Olympics.  The top seeds from China, two pairs from South Korea and another from Indonesia have been disqualified from the tournament and will take no part in this – comically the longest rally in one game between Korea and China was just four strokes and Olympic should not be reduced to such a farce. 

The decision knocked China's doubles world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang;  South Korean pairs Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari.

The controversy was not to rest at that and as a fallout Yu Yang, one of the two Chinese athletes penalized, said on her blog that she was done competing in a sport she dominated for several years. A two-time Olympic medalist and a world champion in women’s doubles, Yu said that she had played her last match.  Her abrupt departure made waves Thursday in Wembley Arena, where the tournament’s quarterfinal rounds were being played.  Yu and Wang were among the favorites to win the women’s doubles title. Yu is 26 and did not appear to have any extraordinary injuries, though she did say after her match on Tuesday that she was not in the best condition.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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