Badminton: No refunds for spectators of thrown matches despite day of shame

 

If Sir Kingsley Amis had ever had the slightest interest in sport, he would be looking down from the great saloon bar in the sky today and reprising his grump that "more means worse".

That was essentially how the farce of badminton's day of shame, when four women's doubles pairs were found guilty of trying to lose in order to earn an easier quarter-final tie, came about. For the London Games, the format of badminton events has been changed from straight knockout to a group system, leading into the quarter-finals. The intention was to offer more matches and greater exposure, in particular to those lower-ranked countries whose interest would normally not last long.

The strategy rebounded spectacularly when, as can happen in any sport using that format, players went into their last match knowing they had already qualified.

That, coincidentally, was the position just 100 yards away at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night, when Great Britain's women's football team took on Brazil – except that they went all out for a famous victory. Similarly, conspiracy theorists had suggested that the men's football team playing in Cardiff last night would benefit from finishing second in their group rather than top.

The other point about the badminton was that the losers knew who their opponents would be, as not all final group matches started at the same time – something Fifa and Uefa introduced after the notorious non-aggression pact between Germany and Austria at the 1982 World Cup.

Thus two Korean pairs, one Chinese and one Indonesian all wanted to avoid playing the world No 2 pair, China's Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei.

Thomas Lund, the Badminton World Federation's chief operating officer, denied the scandal would affect the sport's status within the Olympics. He said spectators who had been present for the matches in question would not be given refunds as they had received good value from other games played during the session. He admitted: "We have to be clear that there has been a problem to take into the debrief after the Games."

Pairs from Australia, Russia, Canada and South Africa, who had all been put on standby, were reinstated.

The Russians took advantage by beating the South Africans 21-9, 21-7 to reach the semi-final, while Canada beat Australia 21-9, 18-21, 21-18.

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