The Badminton World Federation announced rule changes to the Olympic doubles format Friday in Bangkok after eight players were expelled from the Olympics for giving less than a valiant effort to win matches during London’s round robin stage.
The new rules, which will take effect in Rio, place all pairs finishing second in their group into an additional draw to determine which teams will face off in the knockout stage, which the BWF says will “ensure such a regrettable spectacle is never witnessed in badminton again.”
The top group finishers will have a fixed position similar to seeding for the final round.
“This will eliminate any player’s thoughts about actively trying to lose a match or matches, irrespective of other match results,” the BWF said in a statement. “Such a draw process can easily and effectively be made just after all group matches have been concluded.”
The federation also stated that they won’t take any more action against the players or coaches involved in the scandal, mostly because it’s not “legally feasible,” but added that the specific organizations had already done their part to punish the offenders, and that the BWF had strengthened its code of conduct to sanction coaches in the future.
Korea attempted to ban its two coaches for life, but the suspension was reduced to only two years. As for Chinese star Yu Yang – who was kicked out along with her teammate, two teams from South Korea, and one from Indonesia – she has since started playing again and won a tournament in Shanghai earlier this month.
If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.
Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.
Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.
If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.
Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.
The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.
Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.
The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.
Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.
Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.
Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.
The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.