Did you hear about the Olympic badminton teams that tried to lose? Read all about it in The New York Times and watch the video below. Here is a taste:
On Wednesday, four women’s doubles teams — two from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia — were disqualified. But the circumstances were complicated by the fact that the rules of the sport seemed to give the athletes an incentive to lose.
The eight players were found to have tried to lose their matches intentionally, apparently because they had determined that a loss would allow them to play a weaker opponent in the next round.
“The rules say you have to win every match, and that doesn’t mean you throw some matches and win other matches,” said Thomas Lund, the secretary general for the sport’s governing body, the Badminton World Federation.
Badminton officials introduced a preliminary round at the Olympics this year so that each team could play at least three times and not risk traveling thousands of miles only to be eliminated in the first match. But athletes and coaches have always looked for any available advantage, including throwing a match to save energy or to face an easier opponent in the next round.
There was nothing subtle about how the four teams of players — all of whom had already qualified for the quarterfinals — performed Tuesday night. They repeatedly served into the net and hit shots well out of bounds. During one match, a Danish umpire took the drastic step of flashing a black card to warn the players that they could be thrown out.