There was no “good job, good effort” at the end of a women’s doubles badminton match between world champion China and South Korea on Tuesday.
In fact, there was very little effort at all.
The Badminton World Federation released a statement Tuesday, accusing four teams—two from South Korea and one from China and Indonesia—with “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.”
Gambling didn’t appear to be behind the lack of effort. Instead, the teams threw the matches to get a better draw in the knockout round. All eight athletes were expelled from the tournament on Wednesday, hours before they were scheduled to compete in the quarterfinals, according to the Associated Press.
On Tuesday, the South Korean team of Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na upset the China’s world champion team of Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang as 8/5 underdogs. The longest rally in the first game was only four strokes, and fans booed the teams as they left the court.
“We would try hard in every match if they were elimination games,” Yu told reporters after the match. “Because they are group stage that’s why we are conserving energy. If we’re not playing the best it’s because it doesn’t matter — if we’re the first or the second (in the group) we’re already through. The most important thing is the elimination match tomorrow.”
A second team from South Korea and Indonesia repeated the act in the following match, reportedly hitting serve after serve into the net or out of bounds.
“It’s not good when you create a tournament where the players are put in this situation,” Australia coach Lance Bundagaard told the Associated Press said. “If you can win a medal by losing, but not by winning, that’s not a good situation to be put in. I totally understand why they are doing it. Now the Indonesians are doing the same but it’s not a good situation to be put in.”