Eight badminton players were dramatically disqualified from Olympic competition today after a scandal over "throwing" matches left the sport in uproar.
Four pairs in the women's doubles competition -- one from China, one from Indonesia and two from South Korea -- were barred after being hit by disciplinary charges of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) took action.
A source with knowledge of the proceedings confirmed to AFP that the eight women had been disqualified for trying to deliberately lose matches in the round robin phase to manipulate the knockout draw.
The eight badminton players at the heart of the scandal had been charged 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."
Angry spectators jeered and booed the players after they appeared to deliberately serve into the net or hit the shuttlecock long or wide.
They were allegedly attempting to manipulate the final standings in the first-round group stage, with two pairs who had already qualified apparently wanting to lose to secure a favourable draw in the next round.
The Group A match between the powerful Chinese top seeds Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli and unseeded South Korean pair Jung Kyung and Kim Ha-Na came under scrutiny by the BWF after the Chinese lost heavily.
The longest rally in the match was just four shots. Their defeat meant Yu and Wang avoided playing fellow Chinese pair Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, who had finished second in Group D, in the quarter-finals which are due to be played later on Tuesday.
Yu said after the match: "We've already qualified, so why would we waste energy? It's not necessary to go out hard again when the knockout rounds are tomorrow."
After the match, South Korean head coach Sung Han-Kook reportedly said: "It's not the Olympic spirit to play like this. How could the number one pair in the world play like this?" China's Olympic delegation has launched an investigation into the allegations, state media said.
"The Chinese Olympic Committee... opposes any kind of behaviour to violate the sporting spirit and morality," Xinhua news agency quoted a Chinese Olympic spokesman as saying.
London Olympics chairman Sebastian Coe described the scandal as "depressing" and "unacceptable" but officials said spectators who had paid to watch the farcical matches would not be refunded. "It's depressing," Coe said. "Who wants to sit through something like that? It is unacceptable."