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Olympic Roundup: Olympic integrity upheld
Amid all the cheers Wednesday, particularly from the home fans, the biggest Olympic moment came from a group of officials not used to the spotlight.
Faced with a crisis involving the integrity of their sport and of the Olympics as a whole, members of the Badminton World Federation decided to expel eight athletes from the Games for conducting themselves “in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.”
Never mind that those eight included the first and third-ranked women’s doubles team in the world. Never mind that half the players who had reached the quarterfinals in the Olympic women’s doubles tournament would be removed from the event.
When a competitor at the highest level of a sport tries to lose on purpose, something has to be done. And losing on purpose is what the badminton officials said the eight players did.
The decision helped shore up the foundation of the Olympics and symbolically added weight to all the effort being put in by athletes throughout the Games.
That effort Wednesday brought the first two gold medals for the host team — one from Helen Glover and Heather Stanning in pairs rowing and another from British cycling hero Bradley Wiggins, who added the time trial title to the Tour de France championship he won last month.
All the effort possible was expended by American Nathan Adrian and Australian James Magnussen in their battle for the 100-meter freestyle gold medal. After Adrian won by a mere .01 of a second, the joy on his face and the desolate look from Magnussen showed the difference between winning and losing.
Taken in that context, the badminton officials had no choice but to expel the eight players.
During Tuesday’s final round of group play in the badminton tournament, two matches were played involving teams that had already clinched spots in the quarterfinals.
As it happened, the loser in those final group games would have had a preferable draw when the knockout matches began. So the players began hitting serves into the net and simply went through the motions in an attempt to play worse than the other team.
Those familiar with the sport who came to Wembley Stadium to see world class badminton knew what was going on and they did not like it. Boos filled the arena and objects were thrown.
The action came swiftly Wednesday when those in charge of the sport convened.
China’s Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, ranked No. 1 as a doubles team, were disqualified. So were South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, ranked third in the world.
Also gone were Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari of Indonesia and Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na of South Korea.
The eight players made up an entire half of the draw for the quarterfinals. They were replaced by teams from South Africa, Australia, Canada and Russia and the quarterfinals went on without the star players.
“We felt it was important to deal with this swiftly and ensure due process was taken in a way that was of the best interest to the players,” BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund said.
If the decision affected the morale of other members of the Chinese delegation, it did not show.
Chinese athletes won four gold medals — one each in weightlifting, swimming, table tennis and diving, where they remained unbeaten in four events.
That gives China 17 gold medals for the Olympics, five more than the United States. The Chinese led the Americans in overall medals 30-29.
The Czech Republic, Singapore, Belarus, Greece, Venezuela and Spain all won their first medal of the Games. The Venezuela medal was a gold, its first in 44 years and only its second in Olympic history.
Copyright 2012 by United Press International