Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Wembley Arena, Wembley, London
Date Started: July 28, 2012
Date Finished: August 4, 2012
Format: Single-elimination tournament.
Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China were the number one ranked badminton women’s doubles team going into the 2012 Olympics and the favorites to win gold. Yu was one of the defending Olympic champions and a two-time reigning World Champion; in 2008 and 2010 her partner had been Du Jing but, for the 2011 World Championships, she had joined with Wang, a runner-up from the 2010 edition. China also had the number two seed of Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, who had been the runners-up in 2011. South Korea’s Ha Jeong-Eun and Kim Min-Jeong and Japan’s Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa, who ranked third and fourth in the world respectively, were also top prospects to challenge for the podium.
In perhaps the most publicized controversy of the 2012 Games, Wang and Yu were booed off the court after what appeared to be an intentional loss to Jeong Gyeong-Eun and Kim Ha-Na of South Korea during the group stage. Losing the match ensured that Wang and Yu would avoid meeting their compatriots Tian and Zhao until the final and guaranteed China the top two podium spots should each team win their quarter and semifinals. In the ranking-deciding match of another pool, both Ha and Kim and their Indonesian opponents Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari also seemed to be intentionally losing points in an effort to fix the match. Following a review by the Badminton World Federation, all eight players were disqualified from the Games for "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport" and were replaced in the final brackets by the third and fourth-place finishers of their pools. Some felt that this decision was overly harsh, considering that the competitors’ strategy had been a long-term one, seeking to place themselves in the best position to win the tournament at the cost of a single match. Others argued that the players were punished for a faulty rule system that incentivized such behavior and questioned the decision to allow teams that had not yet won a single match to compete for a medal. Most, however, agreed that, above all, the match-fixing went against the competitive spirit of sport and had sullied badminton’s reputation on the international scene. With further punishment left to the national governing bodies of the sport, the South Koreans were banned from all national and international competition for two years (later reduced to six months) while their coaches received a lifetime ban (later reduced to two years). Polii and Jauhari received four month bans while Yu Yang retired mere hours after being disqualified.
With two of the best teams out of contention, Tian and Zhao and Fuijii and Kakiiwa easily survived to the finals, where the Chinese squad emerged victorious 21-10, 25-23. The bronze medal match was fought between the Russian duo of Valeriya Sorokina and Nina Vislova and the Canadians Alex Bruce and Michele Li, who had been the third and fourth-place finishers respectively in the pool originally won by Jeong and Kim. Having lost to the Russians in the group stage 8-21, 10-21, Bruce and Li made a surprising comeback by defeating the Australian duo of Leanne Choo and Renuga Veeran 21-9, 18-21, 21-18 and putting up a valiant effort against the Japanese team in a 12-21, 21-19, 13-21 loss. They were only able to improve their performance against the Russians marginally in the bronze medal match, however, losing 9-21, 10-21.