KUALA LUMPUR - Top badminton players Friday welcomed a decision to use random draws for semi-final matchups at the World Superseries Finals, as the sport's governing body tries to avoid a repeat of the "game-throwing" Olympic scandal. Traditionally, a group winner in the tournament would go on to play the runner-up of the other group in the season-ending showcase.
But the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has decided that there will be a draw to decide which opponent a group winner will play, meaning they could end up meeting the runner-up from the same group in the last four.
The change was prompted by the scandal at last year's Olympics when world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, Indonesians Greysia Poli and Meiliana Jauhari and two South Korean pairs -- Jung Kyung-Eun and Kim Ha-Na, and Ha Jung-Eun and Kim Min-Jung -- were charged for not using their "best efforts" to win matches in the women's doubles.
The eight players had already qualified for the quarter-finals before the final matches of the group stage.
But they appeared to deliberately drop points in farcical scenes many said were prompted by Wang and Yu's attempts to avoid being in the same half of the draw as their Chinese compatriots, Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei.
All four pairs were disqualified from the Olympics. Danish pair Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl, who recorded their first ever victory over Wang and Yu in a 21-11, 16-21, 21-15 Group B match, welcomed the new format. "I like it," Juhl said, adding: "I like the way it is (now)."
Pedersen added her approval. "It's better. It's fairer for everyone involved," she said. Wang, who was involved in the dropped shots scandal, said: "It's okay for me, both ways are good." BWF said the decision to have a draw is to avoid "any element of foul play".
"After what happened at the Olympics, we felt this was the fairest possible way to decide who plays whom in the semi-finals," said BWF Events Director Darren Parks. "We have never had a problem at the Superseries Finals, but we have acted to prevent the possibility of players trying to avoid teammates in the semi-finals." The $500,000 event brings together the top eight performers in each of the five categories based on points earned from the 12 Superseries tournaments.