South Korea have been among the more impressive nations heading into the Beijing Olympics.
|With Park Sung-hwan winning the Asian champion and then helping his team to the final of the Thomas Cup in May in Jakarta, it appeared that the Koreans were one of the few teams capable of challenging the might of China. |
However, the team spirit and cohesion that characterised their recent rise could all be torn apart after a major scandal hit the squad last week.
Head coach Kim Jung-soo, a former top-ranking doubles player himself, has been suspended after becoming embroiled in a police investigation into allegations of embezzlement, according to a Reuters story.
Kim is being investigated on allegations of misappropriation of public funds while holding a high post with a regional badminton organisation. He was suspended by the Korean Badminton Association.
A spokesman for the association told Reuters: "We are worried about a coaching vacuum with only about 40 days left before the the Beijing Olympics. But at the moment we don't have any plan to choose someone to replace Kim."
Even if there are no charges placed against Kim, the association is still likely to keep him out of the fray to prevent any kind of public outcry.
This is the latest scandal to hit badminton, which has suffered a torrid time in 2008. In January, Park's compatriot Lee Hyun-il was involved in an ugly spat with China's world number one Lin Dan in the final of the Korean Open.
Lee went on to win the match amid allegations from Lin that the line judges favoured the Korean player. Lin also nearly came to blows with Lee's coach.
Recently, veteran Badminton World Federation executive Punch Gunalan was sacked as vice president of the world governing body after losing a vote of no confidence. Gunalan was accused of trying to topple the body's Korean president Kang Young-joong.
However, it is even a bigger blow for Korea, whose hopes of dislodging China from the top of the heap at the Beijing Olympics appear almost impossible. The Koreans lost 3-1 to China in the Thomas Cup finals having beaten hosts Indonesia on the way.