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Civilization headed toward a big disqualification

China's Yu Yang left Wang Xiaoli talk while playing against Jung Kyun-eun Kim Ha-nSouth Korewomen's doubles badmintmatch 2012 Summer Olympics

China's Yu Yang, left, and Wang Xiaoli talk while playing against Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, of South Korea, in a women's doubles badminton match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. World doubles champions Wang and Yu, and their South Korean opponents were booed loudly at the Olympics on Tuesday for appearing to try and lose their group match to earn an easier draw. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

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Updated: September 3, 2012 1:29PM

LONDON — The disgust over seeing female badminton players throwing games so as to have easier opponents in the next round hasn’t gone down well. 

The Chinese were trying to guarantee they would have two teams in the finals.  The South Koreans were trying to avoid a tougher next match.

As astounding as the Chinese pair of doubles players deliberately hitting shuttlecocks into the net or whacking them far out of bounds was the response of South Korean head coach Sung Han-kook: ‘‘The Chinese started this. They did it first.’’

All eight of the cheaters were thrown out, and even the Chinese Olympic Committee criticized them. 

Like the players thought of this themselves?  The only thing they did ‘‘wrong’’ was act in too obvious a manner. 

It just makes you wonder: Who are these people who would toy with integrity? It makes you wonder if humans are actually worthy of these global contests which are supposed to be about our highest virtues.

When drunken Lithuanian fans made monkey sounds as their basketball team played Nigeria, you had to wonder if the brotherhood of the Games is just an illusion. One of those Lithuanians made the Nazi salute to a pair of black stadium workers who came to quiet the men down. And, yes, one of the hecklers was arrested under the British Public Order Act. But that itself was kind of a bummer. Do we need laws to make people human?

These are the first Twitter Games, and the use of instant communication by every person with a Twitter account has made for another moral quagmire.

A Greek athlete was dismissed before the Olympics for her racist tweet, a Swiss soccer player was tossed for a threatening tweet and a British teen was arrested Tuesday for sending a nasty tweet to beloved English diver Tom Daley after Daley failed to win a medal. The actual arrest came because the teen then got into online arguments with equally crude defenders of Daley, and . . . it’s just part of the wobbly power of the Internet.

In the London Evening Standard, columnist Richard Godwin summed up the dangers of humans not being able to police themselves through shared ethics:  ‘‘You can block morons. You can ignore them. You can even reason with them. If we arrest and gag everyone who ever says something rash, soon there won’t be much civil society left.’’

But what do we do about athletes who try to lose? Or the idea of it?

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