China Badminton Player Retires Following Olympics Match-Throwing Controversy
A Chinese badminton player "at the heart of the controversy that has placed a question mark over badminton’s future as an Olympic sport" announced her retirement as her team was reportedly told to make a public apology, according to Brown & Cue of the LONDON TIMES. China's Yu Yang claimed her dreams were “heartlessly shattered” after she and teammate Wang Xiaoli were sent home from the London Games "in disgrace." They, along with a doubles pair from South Korea and Indonesia were booted from the Games after being accused of "deliberately trying to lose round-robin matches to secure more favourable draws later in the tournament." On Yu's microblog, she wrote, “We ... only chose to use the rules to abandon the match. This was only so as to be able to compete better in the second round of the knockout [stage]. This is the first time the Olympics has changed the [event’s format]. Don’t they understand the harm this has caused the athletes?” China's Chief coach Li Yongbo accepted blame for the incident. Li: "I feel that no matter whether it is the rules or something else, that’s no excuse. We didn’t strive with all our might in the Olympic way. From that point of view we really didn’t grasp this point thoroughly" (LONDON TIMES, 8/2).
BACKLASH IN CHINA: In London, Branigan & Walker reported that Chinese officials have "yet to comment" on Yu's retirement. The careers of top athletes, including their retirements, are usually "carefully controlled by sports authorities." State news agency Xinhua reported that Chinese officials had ordered Yu, her teammate and the head of their Olympic badminton team to publicly apologize (GUARDIAN, 8/2). The AFP reported that the scandal has been "one of the most talked-about subjects" on China's Twitter-like microblogs this week. Many fans called it a "humiliation" for the national team. Many responded to Yu's "shock announcement" with support and sympathy, although some remained critical (AFP, 8/2).
MORE FALLOUT: Also in London, Jerome Taylor reported that further sanctions may be placed on the Chinese, Indonesian and South Korean badminton teams after the IOC confirmed that it had "requested a probe of the teams’ coaches and support staff" (INDEPENDENT, 8/2). IOC Communications Dir Mark Adams said, "The overall principle is that the Games are about a good sporting performance and when that doesn't happen we need to take action. I hope a line has been drawn under this and that there is the clear message that if it happens again action will be taken" (PA, 8/2).