According to a report yesterday from the Yonhap News Agency, the four players disqualified from the London Olympic Games for attempting to throw their matches have had a further easing of the suspensions handed down by the Korean authorities. The Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) ruled on September 5th, that the four women’s doubles players – Kim Min Jung, Ha Jung Eun, Kim Ha Na, and Jung Kyung Eun – would be allowed to compete for the entire year during which they are still suspended from the Korean National Badminton Team. The decision was made after the players appealed the ruling by the Badminton Korea Association (BKA) to ban them from domestic and international competition for 6 months (see details here). The BKA decision of a one-year suspension from the national team stands, however.
The major effect of the ruling is that the four women will be eligible to compete in Korea’s National Sports Festival next month in Daegu. This multi-sport event, in which players compete for medals for the province or metropolitan area in which their school or pro team is domiciled – is the most important on the domestic badminton calendar. In fact, in anticipation of the ruling, the Korean Ginseng Company team fielded Jung Kyung Eun in its group match at the ongoing Fall Classic on September 4th. KGC won the tournament’s women’s pro team division, beating Jeonbuk Bank, which did not field Kim Min Jung. Neither Ha Jung Eun’s Daekyo team nor Kim Ha Na’s Samsung team entered the tournament.
It is still unclear whether the sentence alteration will result in much international play for the players. Their suspension from the national team until next summer means that they will have to train and compete with their professional teams and only KGC is in the habit of staging an annual trip abroad, outside the auspices of the national team. Samsung last ventured outside of Korea in 2010, Daekyo in 2007, and Jeonbuk Bank has never competed overseas independently.
Yonhap reported that the KOC will also be making a rule change recommendation to the Badminton World Federation and will institute an education programme for its own athletes, as well as a mandatory signed pledges, to prevent a recurrence of an incident like the Olympic match-throwing.
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