London: Eight badminton players were dramatically disqualified from Olympic competition after a scandal over “throwing” matches left the sport in an uproar.
Four pairs in the women’s doubles competition—one from China, one from Indonesia and two from South Korea—were barred after being hit with disciplinary charges by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). A source with knowledge of the proceedings confirmed to AFP that the eight women had been disqualified for trying to deliberately lose matches in the round robin phase to manipulate the knockout draw.
The eight badminton players at the heart of the scandal had been charged 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”. Angry spectators jeered and booed the players after they appeared to deliberately serve into the net or hit the shuttlecock long or wide.
They were allegedly attempting to manipulate the final standings in the first-round group stage, with two pairs who had already qualified apparently wanting to lose to secure a favourable draw in the next round.
The Group A match between the powerful Chinese top seeds Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli and unseeded South Korean pair Jung Kyung and Kim Ha-Na came under scrutiny by the BWF after the Chinese lost heavily. The longest rally in the match was just four shots.
Their defeat meant Yu and Wang avoided playing fellow Chinese pair Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, who had finished second in Group D, in the quarter-finals due to be played later on Wednesday.
Yu said after the match: “We’ve already qualified, so why would we waste energy? It’s not necessary to go out hard again when the knockout rounds are tomorrow.”
The badminton row is not the only controversy surrounding China’s Olympic team. On Tuesday, Chinese teenage swimming sensation Ye Shiwen said a doping row surrounding her in London had inspired her to a second Olympic gold medal, with victory in the 200m medley.
Logo police on the prowl
London:A crackdown by “logo police” on brands being linked to the Olympics without official sponsorship rights is proving a challenge rather than hindrance for some companies, which are relishing testing the limits.
London Games organizers have enforced strict rules to protect official trademarks and stop ambush marketing but have been accused of “lunacy” for ordering shops to remove sausages, flowers and bagels shaped as Olympic rings. Within the Olympic Park, sushi boxes come without soy sauce or wasabi as the vendors are unable to find sachets that do not feature brand logos.
Some food stalls are selling chocolate, chewing gum and savoury snacks under the counter as they cannot display items not produced by key sponsors. Outside the park, companies are coming up with novel ways to piggyback on the Games without running foul of a 2006 British law that tightened protection for Olympic sponsors and has the clout of fines of up to £20,000 (or Rs17.38 lakh).
A group of 11 international companies is sponsoring the event, paying nearly $1 billion (or Rs5,548 crore) for the chance to have their brands associated with the Games and the Olympic rings over four years. A further £700 million has been paid by 42 domestic sponsors.
Half full or half empty?
London: After days facing criticism for swathes of empty seats at venues, organizers at the London Olympics said 2.1 million people attended events in the first three full days of competition. Games organizers said 86% of ticket-holders showed up on Saturday, 92% on Sunday and 88% on Monday.
The gaps have been blamed mostly on officials from sports governing bodies and national Olympic committees not using their allocations of prime seats. Empty seats in privileged spots angered many Britishers who failed in their applications to get Games tickets in public ballots.
Ticket sales here are mandated to the London organizing committee (Locog), which pledged that 75% would reach British residents. A total of 856,000 spectators attended events on Saturday, including a “conservative” estimate of 500,000 on the men’s cycling road race route. It was 900,000 on Sunday, when eight men’s football matches were played. An estimated 300,000 lined the women’s cycling route. Monday’s overall attendance was 370,000.
Sydney: Indigenous leaders have defended Australian boxer Damien Hooper’s decision to wear a T-shirt with the Aboriginal flag at the Olympics, saying he should not have to apologize for the move. Hooper was warned by Australia’s chef de mission Nick Green not to wear the shirt again after sporting it at his opening fight on Monday.
Green said Hooper had apologized and assured him it would not happen again, given that it was a long-standing rule at the Olympics that only flags of competing nations can be displayed at Games events. But the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, which advocates for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, said the incident was “bureaucratic insanity”.
“Boxer Damien Hooper has a right to show his identity as an Aboriginal person in the Australian team,” it said in a statement issued late on Tuesday. “He has nothing to apologize for. Our peoples should be able to show that they are both Aboriginal and Australian.”
The Aboriginal flag has been the cause of controversy before, with indigenous runner Cathy Freeman sparking debate in 1994 when she celebrated her Commonwealth Games 200m gold by doing a victory lap with it.
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