Badminton Life

Lin Dan Takes It Easy Against Chen

Amid jeers of "match-fixing" from the crowd, All England champion Chen Jin beat compatriot and top-ranked Lin Dan in the Asian Championships semi-finals to ensure China of three men's singles places at the Beijing Olympics.

One month after China's head coach Li Yongbo admitted to match-fixing at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Chen beat Lin 21-13, 21-15 to make sure of his place in the top four of the world rankings.

Each country is allowed only two players in the Olympic draw. However, an exception is made if a country has three players inside the world's top four.

Chen's victory means he cannot drop lower than his current fourth ranking come Olympic qualification deadline on April 30, joining Lin and world number three Bao Chunlai in the Beijing Games draw.

Last month, Li proudly admitted that the 2004 Athens Olympic women's semi-final between Zhang Ning and Zhou Mi was fixed to allow Zhang to reach the final, which she eventually won.

Saturday's clash between Chen and Lin had all the hallmarks of a similar arrangement, though Chen did not see it that way.

"I think Lin played his normal game and I played my normal game," he told reporters. "I've very happy to confirm my place in the Olympics but now I have to start from the beginning again."

In his admission last month, Li said: "It shows our patriotism and in fact I'm proud of it."

When pressed about Li's comments, Chen said: "I don't know about that, I'm just happy to get into the Olympics."

Lin's decision to compete in the Asian Championships, the final regional Olympic qualifier, raised eyebrows because his place in the Beijing Games was already assured.

There was speculation in the Chinese media that Lin's presence in the tournament was only to ease Chen's path to the Olympics.

Indeed, Lin appeared to have no interest in the match and did not make a single smash in anger. The knowledgeable Malaysian crowd jeered every time Lin failed to attack a potential smash or lazily missed easy shots.

Lin was unavailable for comment after the match.

Chen's victory means Dane Kenneth Jonassen, the world number five, cannot break into the top four, even though he won the European Championship men's singles title in Herning, Denmark.

Jonassen, however, said Chen still deserves to be in the Olympics despite having an easy passage.

He said: "They put the nation first and I expected that to happen. It is something we never do in Denmark but Chen deserves to be in the Olympics, even if he had an easy draw."

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