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Chinese Officials Intimidated Olympic Umpires, Says Indian Judge

An Indian badminton umpire has claimed that Chinese officials had bullied and intimidated on-court officers during the Olympics in order to obtain favourable decisions for their players.

Girish Natu, reported to be a Badminton World Federation (BWF) certified umpire who was assigned to the Beijing Olympics badminton competition, told the Economic Times in India that he was subjected to "unjust and unfair" practices.

The paper reported Natu as saying that many matches involving foreign players against Chinese players were dictated by Chinese officials, who forced umpires to over-rule decisions in favour of the home players.

He was quoted as saying: "Such incidents often occurred when Chinese players were playing non-Chinese opponents.

"We felt like we were being put to test all the time and Chinese were right. Li Yongbo, the coach of the Chinese badminton team refused to accept decisions that were given in favour of the non-Chinese opponents and created a hue-and-cry on the decisions."

China won three gold medals, two silvers and four bronze from the five Olympic badminton events held at the Beijing Technological University.

The Pune-based umpire told the Times that there were several incidents when Li would threaten umpires whenever faults were called against Chinese players. He said that other umpires also suffered the same fate.

"I was not the only one put through the 'test of being fair', but several others also faced it," Natu was quoted as saying.

He said senior umpires such as Sweden's Hakan Fosto were also being bothered by Li.

"Yongbo once walked up to onto the court (playing area) and grabbing Fosto's arm and threatened him, when he had ruled against the Chinese. He came up to me during the interval and threatened me to meet him first before I stepped out.

"We complained to the chief referee Dennis Li (of Hong Kong) and instead of disciplining the coach, he attempted to pacify us and told us to continue with the game. The worst of all was during the Japanese umpires' match where Li walked on to the court to over-rule a 'slung shot' foul," Natu was reported to have said.

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