Controversy mars Olympic badminton tournament
3:50pm Monday 6th August 2012 in London Olympics 2012 - Latest News
The badminton world got the finish to the London 2012 tournament it craved as the sport's greatest two players played out a final of almost unbelievable quality.
Statistics proclaimed the epic conclusion to the men's singles event between arch-rivals Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei to have been watched by 20% of the world's population.
But even so, it remains unlikely the competition will be remembered for anything other than the controversy surrounding the disqualification of four women's doubles pairs for deliberately trying to lose.
In farcical scenes at Wembley Arena, Chinese top seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang started losing points in an attempt to finish second in their first-round group and avoid compatriots and second seeds Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei at least until the final.
Their opponents Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na rumbled the ruse and tried to copy the tactic before their fellow South Koreans Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung continued the retaliation in another match against Indonesia's Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii, who in turn joined in.
Serves were hit straight into the net and other shots hit wide or long in a bizarre spectacle that angered the crowd.
The tournament referee came courtside and even flashed the black card of disqualification during the second match, although he rescinded his decision on protest almost immediately.
With the sport attracting derision, the Badminton World Federation debated into the small hours before announcing to a media pack that had multiplied considerably overnight that the guilty pairs had been ejected from the event.
The action was decisive but the inquest could still go on for some time with pressure coming from the International Olympic Association to investigate the role of coaches in the furore.
That would inevitably throw the spotlight on China, the sport's most dominant country, who have been accused of result manipulation in the past.
It is a potentially difficult matter for the BWF to tackle but some players did express doubt over whether the sport would retain its Olympic status.
When the commotion died down, the Chinese team showed just how strong it still was by sweeping to gold medals in all five disciplines.
The highlight was Lin's successful title defence, completed in three spellbinding games over 79 energy-sapping minutes.
It was a performance that surely ended all debate over whether he is the greatest player of all time and left Malaysia's Lee, the perennial runner-up, to settle once again for silver, as at Beijing 2008.
Li Xuerui upset compatriot and world number one Wang Yihan in the women's singles while Zhao won mixed and women's doubles titles with Zhang Nan and Tian respectively. Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng won the men's doubles.