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Badminton booed after top doubles pairs don’t try

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

China’s Yu Yang, left, and Wang Xiaoli talk while playing against Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, of South Korea, in a women’s doubles badminton match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. World doubles champions Wang and Yu, and their South Korean opponents were booed loudly at the Olympics on Tuesday for appearing to try and lose their group match to earn an easier draw.

The world doubles badminton champs apparently are good at losing, too.

Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China were booed off the Olympic court Tuesday after appearing to intentionally lose against South Koreans Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na in a preliminary women's match. The South Koreans also didn't look as if they were trying to win at times.

The reason? Both teams had already topped their groups and qualified for the last 16, but the result ensured top seeds Wang and Yu avoided playing their No. 2-seeded teammates until the final.

Both teams dumped serves into the net and made simple errors at Wembley Arena. The longest rally was only four strokes. The umpire warned them midway through the first game, then tournament referee Torsten Berg spoke to all four players, but it had little effect.

Eventually, the Chinese lost 21-14, 21-11.

The strategy of vying for better seedings in the next round seemed to be repeated in the women's doubles match between South Korea's Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, and Indonesia's Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii. Both teams were also warned for deliberately losing points in a match the South Koreans won 18-21, 21-14, 21-12.

The fans who had bought tickets to the event vented their displeasure on them, too.

Berg and the Badminton World Federation said they were going to investigate.

Yu said they were only trying to save energy for the knockout rounds, starting Wednesday.

"We would try hard in every match if they were elimination games," she said. "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."

The South Koreans filed a protest to the referees.

"It's not like the Olympics spirit to play like this," head coach Sung Han-kook said. "How could the No. 1 pair in the world play like this? They start playing mistakes."

Australia coach Lasse Bundgaard blamed the group format.

"It's not good when you create a tournament where the players are put in this situation," he 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."

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