Wednesday, August 1, 2012

(OT) London Olympics: Chinese, Korean, Indonesian Women's Badminton Teams Disqualified for Trying to Lose

so that they would be placed in favorable slots in the tournament. It seems China started it (it has been accused of the same tactics over the years) so that the final would be "China vs China". Seeing China doing it, South Korea and Indonesia followed. The audience booed and jeered, and the players were disqualified by the Badminton World Federation and thrown out of the Olympics.

Game theory at work.

From ABC News (8/1/2012; emphasis is mine):

Olympic Badminton Players Disqualified Over Match Throwing

By JEFFREY KOFMAN (@JeffreyKofman)
LONDON Aug. 1, 2012

They tried to lose to win. And now they have been thrown out of the Olympics.

It was a stunt so glaring, so obvious that the crowds jeered and the referees tried to intervene.

It began when Chinese top seeded women Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang starting serving into the net and missed easy volleys. Already guaranteed a slot in the next round, they want to let South Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na finish at the top of Group A so they could avoid playing Chinese compatriots and second seeds Tian Qingand Zhao Yunlei at least until the final. If the strategy worked China could win gold and silver.

The South Koreans realized what was happening and responded by copying the antics of the Chinese pair. That prompted the referee to stop play and warn all players. But play resumed, the match ending unusually quickly with the Koreans winning.

But it did not end there.

The other South Korean pair, third seeds Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, tried to orchestrate defeat in their game against Indonesia's Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii. They seemed to be trying to avoid Yu and Wang in the quarter-finals.

It gets worse. The Indonesians, spotting the shenanigans, tried to play along and lose too.

The crowd was incensed. As were the TV commentators.

... It did not take long for Badminton World Federation to respond. This morning the eight players were kicked out the Olympic games, accused of "not using one's best efforts to win" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport."

All four pairs were accused of wanting to lose in an attempt to manipulate the draw for the knockout stage.

Speaking before the verdict, Korea's coach Sung Han-kook said: "The Chinese started this. They did it first. It's a complicated thing with the draws. They didn't want to meet each other in the semi-final, they don't want that to happen…. They (BWF) should do something about that."

(Full article at the link)

Now, I have a slight anxiety over the Japan's women's soccer team. It has advanced to the quarter final with one win and 2 draws in the qualifying round, but the team's general manager is on record saying he wanted his team to draw so that the team would advance to the quarter final as the No.2 in the qualifying round, instead of No.1. The reason? He wanted his team to stay where they were (Cardiff), so that the players wouldn't get tired from traveling to a different city (Glasgow; they would have had to, had they been the No.1).

In the last qualifying match with South Africa, the Japanese team had 2nd and 3rd string players so that the top players could rest, supposedly. The general manager says he decided to shoot for a draw and told his players so in the second half of the match.

It sure seems to put the team as the same category as these disqualified Asian badminton teams...


Anonymous said...

What does China take more seriously than athletic competition?

Economic competition.

Do you think they're manipulating that game too? How many Chinese products will you buy today?

Anonymous said...

The Olympic officials are themselves to blame for this. They abolished the Olympic system (lose once and you are out), opting for a group stage instead. And now they are blaming the athletes for doing their best to win the tournament - WTF?

In soccer, it is absolutely normal to get a draw (or even a loss) during a group stage. But it can be done in a much more elegant way, e.g. by keeping the main team on the reserve bank and letting young players "gain experience".

The main problem is that a group stage was introduced in a sport that isn't used to group stages. Now this provided not as entertaining for the public as hoped for, but I find it outrageous to punish athletes for being not entertaining enough.

Anonymous said...

Tried driving from Cardiff to Glasgow? I did it with a band, about 20 years ago. We were all gibbering wrecks at the end of the day, stressed out, fractious and exhausted, and the singer lost her voice. I can understand a coach doing this if there's not proper time to rest. Do it yourselves before you judge them

JAnonymous said...

I'm going to be hated, but please look at the footage before saying the athletes are not to blame.

Once you're done looking at the footage (and only then) try to imagine what the John Does are thinking in the stands, while all those best badminton players in the world that were selected for the most prestigious (and expensive: seat tickets that cost an arm) competition miserably send their serves or volleys straight to the net.

Now tell me, if the goal is to win, that means you have to beat everyone that stands in your way to the gold. So, what use is there to try avoiding stronger opponents ? The strongest will face you sooner or later...

Anonymous said...

Chinese wanted all-Chinese final.

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