China head coach admits match fixing in Olympic badminton


Posted at Mar 23 2008 10:53 AM | Updated as of Mar 23 2008 06:53 PM

Agence France-Presse

BEIJING - China's badminton head coach has admitted ordering a player to throw a crucial tie at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Coach Li Yongbo told China Central Television's sports channel that the 2004 Athens Olympics semi-final was fixed to improve China's chances of winning a gold medal.

Two Chinese players, Zhou Mi and Zhang Ning, were drawn together in the semi-final tie.

After watching Zhang win the first game, the coaching staff decided that she would have a better shot at winning the final against a non-Chinese opponent rather than Zhou.

"After the first game, Zhang looked in better all round shape," Li was quoted as saying in a report on the interview by Sina.Com, a popular website.

"So we told Zhou Mi not to work too hard and let Zhang into the final."

Li said he and the Chinese team had nothing to be ashamed of.

"It shows our patriotism and in fact I am proud of it."

Zhang won the gold as planned and is expected to defend her Olympic title at the Beijing Games here in August.

For her part, Zhou quit the Chinese team and went to Hong Kong. She is currently hoping to qualify to represent the territory in badminton at the Beijing Olympics.

Li's admission revived long-standing concern about behind-the-scenes arrangements at top international table tennis and badminton events by Chinese teams.

The practice first surfaced in 1987, when He Zhili ignored an order to throw a semi-final to teammate Guan Jianhua at the 1987 world table tennis championships.

She went on to win the final, but was left out of the 1988 Seoul Olympic team as punishment.

In badminton, suspicions are still rife about Wang Dan's defeat to teammate Chen Jin in the recent all-England final, with some experts suggesting that Wang threw the game.