Gail Emms: The WBF should have acted immediately last night and disqualified these players on the spot

 

It was the boos and screams from the spectators, a sound you don't hear often in badminton, which first alerted me to the fact that something was going badly wrong at Wembley Arena.

When I went to look at what was causing the unhappiness at the women's doubles match featuring Chinese top seeds Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli and South Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na I could barely believe my eyes.

What followed when South Korean third seeds Ha Jung-Eun and Kim Min-Jung played Indonesian pair Meiliana Juahari and Greysia Polii only deepened my outrage.

All eight players were playing to lose. And doing so blatantly. There was serving into the net, then missed shots, over-hit shots and a distinct lack of effort. My two-and-a-half-year-old could have beaten any of those pairs last night.

Fingers have been pointed at the Chinese pair on the suspicion that they did not want to meet their compatriots in the first knock out round. A bit like a playground fight, I don't know who started it and it doesn't matter - they were all to blame.

The spectacle we saw last night is damaging to badminton and I can only apologise to the people who paid good money to watch it. They will feel rightly cheated.

Equally to blame in all this are the organisers, the team managers and the coaches. In a way, the players themselves are acting instinctively - doing what it takes to win a gold medal.

But the World Badminton Federation (WBF) should never have allowed the round robin format to replace the knock out tournament that has always been used in previous Olympics and the coaches should never have allowed their players to perform as they did last night.

There was always going to be a risk of match throwing with the new group stage format and I know this risk was raised with officials prior to Tuesday's matches. The referee just laughed.

The WBF should have acted immediately last night and disqualified these players on the spot. Instead we had the farcical situation of the South Koreans and the Indonesians being shown the black disqualification card and it then being withdraw.

The world body has been made to look indecisive because of that. I am pleased that they have now done what they should have done by disqualifying all eight.

It would have been intolerable for spectators attending last night's quarter finals to know they were watching cheats.

Gail Emms, British badminton Olympic silver medallist in 2004.

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