Former Chinese badminton star Ye Zhaoying revealed on August 27 that when she participated in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she was ordered to lose to another Chinese player – Gong Zhichao in the semi-finals. and must not tire Gong so that she could be at her best for the next match, which will improve the Chinese team’s chances of winning a gold medal.
“They asked me to do this,” Ye said in an interview with Danish TV channel TV2 Sport. She added, “They told me not to act like I deliberately lost, but at the same time they asked me not to tire Gong, so I had to lose in two straight sets. The match couldn’t go to three sets because Gong would become too exhausted. You can watch it again (the performance), to see if I purposely hit the outside line, or I didn’t go over the net, I didn’t have a choice at that point.”
(Reference video: Sydney 2000 Olympic women’s singles semi-final video: Gong Zhichao vs Ye Zhaoying )
Ye did not name any coaches or management staff, but emphasized, “You feel so powerless, because it’s just you against the whole system. The Olympic Games are almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an athlete, and it feels so desperately tragic when you have to throw it all away. But I’m just one person, and there was nothing I could do against the system.”
Ye also did not say which coach or management staff the directive was from. However, public information shows that at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Li Yongbo, the head coach sent three female players, Ye, Gong, and Dai Yun to the games and all of them reached the women’s singles semifinals.
Then, Gong defeated the Danish player, Camilla Martin in the final to win the gold medal. Ye won the bronze medal in the fight for third place. At the end of the Olympics, Ye decided to retire at the age of 26. Her performance and skill sets were at their peak.
Ye and her husband, former Chinese national soccer star Hao Haidong live in Malaga, Spain, after fleeing China.
The couple also said during the interview that they may never have the chance to return to China since Hao strongly criticized the Chinese Communist Party in June 2020.