The badminton community was stunned by former superstar Ye Zhaoying’s statements at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She said that in the semi-final match against compatriot Gong Zhichao, Chinese officials ordered her to lose so that her teammate could have a better chance of winning the gold medal in the final against Denmark’s Camilla Martin. As a result, ye lost 11-8, 11-8 to Gong, who defeated Denmark’s Camilla Martin 13-10, 11-3 in the final. Ye then won the bronze medal after beating her compatriot Dài Yùn.
The Danish broadcaster TV 2 Sport said:
“The story about the arranged match has been haunting Camilla Martin, badminton presenter of TV 2 SPORT, for a long time. Both as an active player when she first learned about the story, but especially since 2004, when she retired from badminton and gained a clearer view of China’s methods on and off the court. However, Camilla Martin only recently managed to persuade Ye Zhaoying to come forward and speak openly about the controversial Olympic semi-final in 2000. How it was agreed, who was involved, and why she deliberately lost.”
Ye said in the interview that before the match, head coach Lǐ Yǒngbō and women’s singles coach Táng Xuéhuá approached and paid her 112,500 yuan ($16,300) for losing, the same sum paid to gold medalists.
She also said:
“You feel very powerless because you are alone against the whole system.
“The Olympics are almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as an athlete, so it feels very sad when you have to let yourself lose.”
“But as an individual, I couldn’t do anything against the system.”
When asked for more details about the match Ye says that he was asked not to show that she was deliberately losing and not to tire Gong, so she had to lose in two straight sets.
When badminton commentator Jin Laugesen watched the match again, he said there was no doubt that Ye let Gong win. “Ye Zhaoying was a class player, and you can see from her attitude and the way she misses shots or hits the steering wheel off the court that she wasn’t there to win.”
From superstar to villain
Ye Zhaoying, 48, was born in Hangzhou, China. She is recognized as one of the best badminton players of her time. She was first in the world rankings for the first time in 1995, a title she lost and won several times during her career. She was elected to the World Badminton Hall of Fame for numerous victories in 2009.
She now lives in exile in Malaga, Spain, with her husband, the famous Chinese footballer Hao Haidong. He, like her, also became persona non grata within his own country after a strong statement against the CCP on a Youtube channel.
Both are considered “traitors” by the Chinese regime, and their history was erased from the Chinese search engine Baidu and Chinese social networks such as Weibo and WeChat. In addition, bank accounts linked to their more than 10 properties and their co-ownership in several companies have been frozen.
Still, the couple stands firm with their criticism of the regime, as Hao states: “If you look at what we have lost compared to what we can contribute to future generations in China, it’s all worth it. We want the world to see the heinous actions committed by the Chinese government.”
For the image, anything goes.
The USSR perfected the use of sport as a showcase and propaganda by communist regimes and then continued by the CCP. The continuous struggle to show the “superiority” of their system leads them to use all kinds of avenues to achieve their goals. So naturally, the Olympics are the best setting to show themselves, so athletes representing the country begin tough and demanding training at ages as young as 4.
The training methods are brutal. The blows and humiliations of the coaches added to the rigorous exercise routine.
Jessica Shuran Yu, a figure skating champion born and trained in China, tells the Guardian in an interview about the abuse she suffered.
“On especially bad days, I was beaten more than 10 times in a row until my skin was off the flesh.”
She then recounted how she saw one junior skater being beaten and dragged off the ice while another was forced to compete with two torn ligaments.
Children training for sports such as weightlifting are especially affected because of their young age, and their bodies suffer significant damage. The State has scouts that choose children with skills to train in the more than 2000 regime-run sports schools.
Chinese sports expert at King’s College London Layne Vandenberg told The Sun: “Sports culture and training grew as a tactic to strengthen the armed forces and embrace a ‘warrior spirit’ to combat the perception that China was the ‘sick man of Asia.'”
When the effort of athletes is not enough to win competitions, other methods may be used.
Some media sowed doubt about specific actions against foreign athletes in the competitions of the Winter Olympics in China.
Five high-level athletes were disqualified from the ski jumping final of the Beijing Olympics for alleged violations in the suits. And this seems to attract more attention than the gold medal in the competition.
A Chinese speed skater stumbles on a rival in the women’s division. Now there is debate about whether she did it on purpose or not.
In the men’s category, another skater from the Chinese team pushed his opponent, causing his fall. But the judges chose not to penalize him.
Coincidence or part of the game?