Olympics 2012 – Nowhere left to hide!!

Posted: August 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

The by now famous Black Card

It is the day after the night before and even with the benefit of sleep I woke up deeply saddened by the sequence of events that unfolded before my eyes in the women’s doubles last night at the Wembley Arena.

For a long time now our sport, my sport has been embroiled in controversy about alleged match fixing or at what at best can be described as match manipulation. The last thing I expected, that here at the Olympic Games, the most blatant attempt to influence the final outcome of a group table would unfold in front of my eyes.

The snowball was pushed down the hill earlier in the day when Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl beat second seeded Chinese pair Zhao Yunlai and Tian Qing. What a game that was with both pairs giving everything they had to win the match. A real feast of top class women’s doubles badminton.

The win for the Danes not only confirmed them as group D winners with the fancied Chinese ending up in second in that group but also had the potential to put the Chinese on the same half of the knockout draw at their top seeded compatriots Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, assuming the top seeded Chinese won their group.

Any of us that know badminton and have witnessed the events of tournaments of the past years knew that the Chinese powers that be we’re never going to let this happen and so the debacle began. Note: It is also important to point out at this stage that a selection of the team managers of the competing nations at these Olympics highlighted that this may happen at the managers meeting prior to the games kicking off.  It is reported that the tournament referee almost laughed it off.

The rolling snowball really started to gather momentum when Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli took to the court against the Korean pair Jung/Kim. The Chinese not wanting to top the group proceeded to take a bit part involvement in the match refusing to get involved in rallies and continuously serving into the net to ensure they lost the match and finished second in the group so as to avoid their compatriots. One one occasion I counted 7 consecutive serves into the net. Even under the attention of the tournament referee the Chinese manage to achieve their goal and purposely loose the game to finish runners up in group A.

The snowball was well and truly gathering pace at this stage and by the time Korean pair of Ha/Kim and Indonesian specialists Polii/Jauhari took to the court the momentum and destructive force it had gathered had reached its peak.

Neither the Koreans nor Indonesians, given the events that had proceeded during the day, wanted to finish top of their group as to do so would now see them being paired with the Chinese who had manipulated proceedings to finish second in their group. The match started with both pairs deliberately serving into the net and before long the tournament referee was called into action once again.

At one point all four players, the referee, all coaches plus interpreters were on court trying to solve the issue. The game resumed and after a few rallies with some well acted intent the match soon fell back into the farce it had started with.

What happened next would have been laughable at the time if it was not so serious. The referee actually gave black cards to all four players, which to the best of my knowledge, means immediate disqualification. No sooner had he branded the card that he rescinded it after protests from the players and the match resumed.

Discussions on Court

The game continued and in a bizarre twist of fate went to three games. The booing and chanting from the crowd were deafening and I even saw one very well respected badminton person crying as they witnessed what was unfolding in from of them.  There will be no Oscars for acting for any of these four players with the Koreans eventually wining and ending up top of group C.

That was the course of events as I saw it unfold before me from my courtside position. Why it happened is another story. In my opinion the introduction of groups without any form of testing was a mistake. If groups were to be used then all final group matches need to be run concurrently, this is not rocket science every other sport does it for the very same reasons.

Pi Hongyan of France made an interesting suggestion. “If you want groups go ahead and use them but have a new open draw for the last 8 and that would put an end to these situations”

In other disciplines, and I talk specifically about men’s singles, the group system was a joke given that 7 of the 16 groups were two person groups.

So what happens now?  Well all I know is that the game of badminton is now at an all time low. Millions of people all over the world saw the debacle that took place on black Tuesday 31st July.

What mental state or more so what pressure must an athlete be under to willingly loose a match at the Olympic Games. These athletes by definition took an Olympic oath at the opening ceremony to uphold the Olympic values of fair play, in my opinion they broke that oath yesterday and should be sanctioned accordingly.

What I do know is that the BWF will conduct a formal hearing later today where a final decision will be made. There will be a lot of pressure on the BWF to finally put an end to this series of match manipulations that has crept into our sport and hopefully today is the watershed as last night the rolling snowball crashed into the our town and flattened it to the ground, and so the rebuilding starts today.

To view a short video of some of the antics from the Korea V Indonesia match yesterday just click HERE

Note: All opinions expressed above are my own personal opinions. Photos are courtesy of badminton photo.

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