Berliner Tageblatt - Chinese badminton star ordered to throw Olympic semi in Sydney 2000

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Chinese badminton star ordered to throw Olympic semi in Sydney 2000
Chinese badminton star ordered to throw Olympic semi in Sydney 2000 / Photo: © AFP/File

Chinese badminton star ordered to throw Olympic semi in Sydney 2000

Former Chinese badminton champion Ye Zhaoying claims she was forced to throw her semi-final at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 to increase the chances of a gold medal for one of her compatriots, in an interview broadcast on Saturday by Danish television TV2.

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Twenty-two years later, the former world number one, who won bronze in Australia, says she was pushed by the team management to lose her match against Gong Zhichao so as not to "tire her too much" ahead of a final against Danish champion Camilla Martin.

"They asked me to do this. They told me not to let it look like I was losing on purpose. But at the same time, they wanted me not to tire Gong Zhichao too much," Ye alleged on TV2.

"They wanted me to lose in two sets, not in three sets, so that I wouldn't tire her out too much.

"You can go and watch (the match) again. I would purposely put points out of bounds, stuff like that, or make sure (the shuttlecock) did not go over the net. I had no choice."

Ye, however, stopped short of naming individual coaches or management staff she claims instructed her to lose the match.

"We feel very helpless, because we are alone against the system," she said.

"The Olympics is almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an athlete, so it's really sad. But as an individual, I couldn't argue with the system."

Gong duly went on to beat Martin in the final and win the gold medal.

In a press release, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said it "can’t comment on specific details related to this historic incident" but that measures were in place to combat corruption.

"Accusations of this nature are something we consider very seriously,"said BWF president Thomas Lund in the statement.

"Match manipulation of any kind is not tolerated in badminton. We are committed to protecting the integrity of the sport by putting in place very robust measures for monitoring and investigating acts of match manipulation."

Lund said the federation needed to remain "vigilant" in its attempt to keep the sport clean, while encouraging individuals to come forward through the BWF's 'whisteblower' system.

The interview with the Chinese player was conducted in Malaga, Spain, where Ye lives in exile with her husband, former Chinese soccer star Hao Haidong.

The couple explain to TV2 that they have almost no hope of returning to China since the strong criticism levelled in June 2020 by Hao against the Chinese authorities.

In response to their stance, both athletes have been airbrushed from the Chinese internet, having been removed from Chinese search engine Baidu and Chinese social networks such as Weibo and WeChat.