Hold the phones, everyone. This story isn’t as straightforward as we thought, and it doesn’t seem like Yu Yang completely agrees with the Badminton World Federation’s decision to disqualify her and teammate Wang Xiaoli for match fixing. (Also, she announced her retirement on Tencent Weibo, but we’ll get to that in a second.)
Yesterday on Tencent Weibo (Tuesday night London time), before BWF had passed judgment, reporter Zhang Nan posted (my translations; original message appears at bottom):
I just learned a piece of information from the team ~~ Wang Xiaoli injured her right knee in warmups before today’s competition ~ because they had already advanced out of the group stage, they held back* during the match ~ also discovered opponents basically didn’t warm up ~ understood they had no intention of winning the match ~ during the match the opponent first shaved a point ~ affected their [Chinese team's] state of mind ~ in end the led to today’s situation ~ if only there were nothing to Wang Xiaoli’s injury ~~
*Ed’s note: my translation of “控制,” which really means controlled/had control over.
Yu Yang replied to that message thusly:
Tomorrow is the knockout round, we don’t have much time to make adjustments. No matter the result, we’ll give it our all. Hope fans can understand our situation.
Over the course of the day, a whirlwind blew through the badminton world as BWF announced four pairs of teams would be disqualified from the women’s doubles tournament (but could continue in other badminton events). BWF posted its message under its official Tencent Weibo account, and two minutes later, Yu Yang replied with this bombshell:
This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton.
We’re not sure what to make of her decision to retire, whether she’ll hold to it or not, considering she’s only 26 years old, and whether it’s a direct result of BWF’s decision. Earlier that day, she went on Chinese TV to issue what seemed like a sincere apology to fans for her and teammate Wang Xiaoli’s performance on Tuesday, when they purposely lost to South Korea’s Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na.
But soon after she announced her retirement, Yu Yang had something else to say, directed at BWF. Again, Tencent Weibo:
We were simply injured, simply chose to abandon the match within the rules. Simply to play better in the second phase of competition, the knockout rounds. This is the first time the Olympics changed the rules to have pool play before knockout rounds, do you guys understand an athlete’s injury? Four years of preparation and hard work with injury, (they) say it’s gone and our right to compete is gone. You guys ruthlessly* shattered our dreams. Situation’s just that simple, not complicated, but is so unforgivable.
*Ed’s note: or ruthlessly/mercilessly
That message has gotten 43,776 reposts and replies, most of them very supportive of Yu.
Yu won the women’s doubles gold medal at the 2008 Olympics and bronze in the mixed doubles, and also won gold in the women’s doubles at last year’s World Championships in London.
UPDATE, 2:28 pm: Clarification on the headline: Yu never personally said her team’s performance was due to Wang’s injury. Obviously someone close to the situation fed that information to the journalist though, and Yu, in her reply to Zhang Nan and later message, implies that Wang’s injury at least caused them to not try their hardest. She does not, of course, ever deny throwing the match, and her televised apology to Chinese fans really does seem sincere.