General

2012, overshadowed by a major scandal
Date: 6/29/2021 4:01 PM
Published by : Sara Gonzalez Martinez (BEC)
London 2012 was mainly an Olympics of scandal for badminton, but it would also be the year in which Europe came back stronger after earning no medals in 2008. 

The Olympics are the world’s biggest sport event, a celebration of all the good values in sports — fairness, equality, respect. Sadly, the soundtrack for some of the matches did not signal such cheeriness as the crowd could be heard booing, a not so common reaction at the event.

Eight disqualified in a shocking and shameful incident
Top badminton players had gathered in London to battle off for the Olympic medals. However, London 2012 would see a historic incident, and not a good one to add to the books.

It all started when Chinese duo and top seeds Yu Yang/ Wang Xiaoli took the court to play against South Korea’s Jung Kyung-eun/ Kim Ha-na. It was bond to be an exhilarating show of top level badminton, but spectators did not get what they were expecting.

It was a disastrous spectacle as both pairs were giving a performance far from the one expected from professional players. Instead of a fight to win, as it should be, it looked like a battle to result in being defeated, with players missing shots deliberately. Fans were seemingly unhappy and booed off the players.

Torsten Berg, who served as the president of the then called European Badminton Union from 1992 to 2004, was the referee of the 2012 Olympic Games halted the game to warn the players. Jung Kyung-eun/ Kim Ha-na won 21-14 21-11, but the shameful show was far from over.

Later in the day, it was the turn for the Indonesian pair Meiliana Jauhari/ Greysia Poli who would be facing another South Korean duo, third seeds Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung. The scenes seemed to be repeating themselves as shots were hitting the net in what looked like another farce. 

This time, Berg showed a black card, threatening both pairs in the match to be disqualified, but after many protests from the Indonesian side, the match resumed. These performances sparked controversy and after consideration, it was decided that a total of eight Olympic badminton players would be disqualified.

The possible cause for the scandal   
There were many talks as for what could be the reasons behind this performance against the codes of conduct. One of the main hypotheses was that as opposed to the usual knockout rounds, this would be the first time in Olympic badminton in which a round-robin stage would be used. By losing on purpose while still qualified, they would influence on who they would play against in the decisive rounds. 

There were many who commented on the issue, including players. The accused offered their side, justifying their actions, while the players not involved expressed their unhappiness.

-Actually, these opponents really were strong. This is the first time we've played them and tomorrow it's the knockout rounds, so we've already qualified and we wanted to have more energy for the knockout rounds, Yu Yang explained according to the Guardian. 

-I'm furious. It is very embarrassing for our sport. This is the Olympic Games. This is something that is not acceptable. The crowd paid good money to watch two matches, stated Gail Emms for BBC Sport.

Europe, back in the game after a dreary 2008 Olympics
The 2012 Olympics were not all bad after all for badminton. The 2008 Beijing Games saw Europe leaving emptyhanded for the first time in the Olympics, but 2012 would be a much better year for them thanks to Denmark and Russia.

All gold medals went to China, but some European players in the doubles categories managed to shine. This was the case in men’s doubles, in which the third seeds Mathias Boe/ Carsten Mogensen got the best results among European players with silver.

They faced some hard opponents in the decisive matches. They first had the difficult task of defeating second seeds Chung Jae Sung/ Lee Yong Dae and after an arduous three-game match, the Danes won 17-21, 21-18, 22-20. 

The decisive encounter was bound to be the toughest, playing against top seeds Cai Yun/ Fu Haifeng. The Chinese won in straight games, but the Danish pair proudly earned a second place in the men’s doubles Olympic podium.

First medal for one European nation
It was another Danish victory in mixed doubles with Joachim Fischer Nielsen/ Christinna Pedersen winning bronze. The fourth seeded Danish pair faced third seeds Tontowi Ahmad/Lilyana Natsir in the fight for a medal and won 21-12 21-12. This would be Pedersen’s first Olympic medal but not the last one, as the legendary player would go on to win silver in Rio 2016 with on and off court partner Kamilla Rytter Juhl.

Valeria Sorokina/ Nina Vislova would also go on to win bronze in a great victory that would see Russia earning their first ever badminton Olympic medal. The women’s double pair lost the fight for gold to second seeds Tian Qing/ Zhao Yunlei, but beat Canadian pair Alexandra Bruce/ Michelle Li for bronze. 

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