HONG KONG — Badminton fans across Asia took to social media on Aug. 2 to express anger and embarrassment over the Olympic match-fixing scandal, with 3.7 million posts on one microblogging site alone.
In the sport's powerhouse China, popular rage at disgraced star Yu Yang, who along with her partner was deemed by the World Badminton Federation to have lost a match on purpose, melted away after she vowed to quit the game.
The scandal, which saw eight players disqualified, topped the list of hottest topics on the Chinese site Weibo with more than 3.7 million posts.
Many microbloggers in China and across the region blamed the match-throwing on the system rather than the players, who it said were encouraged to lose qualifying matches so that they faced easier opponents in the later stages.
"Might as well retire, many countries need you, and maybe in those places no one will order you not to win your next match," wrote one user identified as Flower Hat.
"Our country as a whole likes to exploit loopholes," said a microblogger called Qiao Jiujun. The scandal reflected shortcomings in China's social system and its short-sighted obsession with gold medals, he wrote.
In an online Chinese poll that had collected 700 votes as of the afternoon of Aug. 3, 49 percent of respondents said it would be a pity for Yu to leave the sport.
Forty percent said she should do so to prompt reflection among "relevant departments," a likely reference to the government.
In Indonesia, web users were also divided, with many expressing anger at the players and others at the game's governing body.
"It's so embarrassing that our badminton players are disqualified in London," said Saharaniharsih, echoing widespread feeling.
South Korean Internet users, meanwhile, were generally scathing toward the four players the country lost to the scandal.
Few were sympathetic to the argument put forward by one South Korean pair that they were merely copying the tactics of their Chinese opponents.
"Don't even think about blaming Chinese players. It was even more wrong to criticize them and do the same thing. What is wrong, is wrong," said a user Linkinpark on major portal Daum.net, one of two blogs where the topic ranked in the top 10 list.
The affair also attracted the attention of other badminton-mad countries like Malaysia, where fans are closely following the progress of world number two Lee Chong Wei — the nation's best hope for its first Olympic gold medal.
"Kick out whoever brings shame to badminton and China in particular has doubtful record about fair play," a Malaysian man wrote on the Facebook page of the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
More than 77,000 tweets containing the word "badminton" were created on Aug. 2, according to social media search engine topsy.com. By contrast there are just over 400,000 tweets on the term since Twitter was launched in 2006.