Badminton Life

Olympic Officials Concerned by China's "fix" Claim

According to reports, the Badminton World Federation is investigating allegations in a television interview given by China's head coach Li Yongbo.

Li appeared to admit that he ordered former Chinese player Zhou Mi to throw the Athens 2004 women's singles semi-final against her compatriot and eventual gold medal winner, Zhang Ning.

It was felt that Zhang would have a better chance of winning the gold, which she did.

BWF secretary-general Stuart Robbie told media: "We take the allegations seriously and are investigating. A report is being prepared for the next meeting of our council in Jakarta on May 16. I understand the International Olympic Committee are aware of the issue."

For veteran observers of Chinese national teams, Li's admission does not come as a surprise. Indeed, Li said he stood by the decision and felt there was nothing wrong in helping the best Chinese player win a medal.

"It shows our patriotism and I am proud of it," he was recently quoted as saying.

The practice is not restricted to badminton but other sports in which individuals can prosper.

The Chinese table tennis team has also been under scrutiny. Often when China play Hong Kong in major competitions, especially in semi-finals or finals, the Chinese players usually come out on top.

With Hong Kong frequently fielding ex-Chinese players, there is reported to be an "unwritten deal" that Hong Kong cannot beat China at big events while those ex-Chinese players are still at their peak.

Zhou Ming is now a Hong Kong player, having emigrated one year ago, but she is unable to play in the Olympic because of a residency rule working against her.

Often when two Chinese players meet in a tournament, the coaches want the player most likely to progress to come out on top. If it is in a final, then they might decide on a new face winning the title.

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