Fri, September 20, 2013

Canada makes badminton semifinals after teams tossed for throwing matches

By BOB MACKIN, Special to QMI Agency


Canada's Alex Bruce (R) congratulates teammate Michele Li after their victory over Australia's Leanne Choo and Renuga Veeran during their women's double badminton quarterfinal match at the London Olympic Games in London on August 1, 2012. (AFP)


LONDON - Eight women are out of the London Olympics after they threw badminton matches on Tuesday night at Wembley Arena leaving a Canadian pair as the big beneficiary.

Alex Bruce of Toronto and Michele Li of Markham, Ont., beat Australia's Leanne Choo and Renuga Veeran 21-9, 18-21, 21-18 in a lengthy Wednesday quarter-final and will meet Japan in a semifinal on Thursday.

The players were among four pairs restored to the tournament after the expulsions of two South Korean duos and one each from China and Indonesia were upheld. Badminton World Federation found they did not use their best efforts to win and committed conduct detrimental to the game.

South Koreans Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha na beat world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China 21-14, 21-11. Both duos served directly at the net.

The win meant the South Korean duo was supposed to face Greysia Polii and Miliana Jauhari of Indonesia, who lost a subsequent match to Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung of South Korea, 21-18, 14-21, 12-21.

Ultimately, Wang and Yu would not have had to meet number two-seeded Chinese duo Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei until the final. But that is now all irrelevant. South Korea's appeal was dismissed. Indonesia withdrew its appeal while China did not contest the charges.

"The regulations clearly state you have to win every match and you cannot throw some matches to win other matches," said BWF secretary general Thomas Lund. "There's no two ways about that and that is what the disciplinary committee found in the principles of the Olympic Spirit."

Despite the incident, London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton said no refunds would be issued to ticketholders.

"They actually did get to see another game, it wasn't a one-off game," said Deighton. "As far as I know no one's asked for a refund. You get into all sorts of strange precedents if people aren't satisfied with what they see."

Allegations of attempts to manipulate matchups have hung over high-profile Winter Olympics events in recent years.

Last December, Peter Forsberg was quoted in a Swedish documentary that the Turin 2006 gold medal-winning hockey team purposely lost 3-0 to Slovakia to avoid playing Canada or Russia in the quarterfinals. Forsberg told an International Ice Hockey Federation internal investigation that nobody on the team discussed playing a below-standard game. The IIHF report concluded that Forsberg made an "unfortunate choice of words."

Ingrid Paul, a speedskating coach with Canada at Vancouver 2010, was found by the Netherlands' Olympic committee to have been involved in a scheme at Turin 2006 to induce a Polish speedskater to withdraw from the 5,000 metre race.

A July 2011 report said Dutch speedskater Gretha Smit handed Katarzyna Wojicka a note offering 50,000 Euros if she chose not to start. Smit, the 2002 silver medalist, was the first alternate and Paul was her coach.

Paul denied in late 2009 that she offered a bribe, but she did admit asking whether any skaters would consider giving up their spot for Smit. Gold medallist Clara Hughes of Winnipeg was quoted in the report as saying she heard the Dutch were offering 30,000 Euros.

There is no evidence that the badminton controversy is related to gambling, but Canadian journalist Declan Hill said in a July 26 blog post that the London Games may be prone to a match-fixing scandal. The security focus is on anti-terrorism, instead of corruption, despite the International Olympic Committee's alliance with betting exchange Betfair to monitor gambling trends.

"To be fair, the fixers usually do not bet with the British gambling industry," wrote Hill, author of How to Fix a Soccer Game. "It is simply too well-regulated and monitored. What they do is bet on the Asian - largely illegal-gambling market."