Badminton players upset by schedule

LONDON -- Badminton players criticized a dramatic, last-minute overhaul of their match schedules at the Olympics, saying Friday that the changes could affect their performance.

The Badminton World Federation apologized for the "inconvenience caused" by the revision, made after it became clear that the initial schedule did not meet competition regulations.

Badminton organizers had agreed with the IOC to arrange the group-stage games so that top-ranked players would play first against bottom-ranked players. But the initial schedule did not take this into account and, therefore, had to be changed. The new timetable will mean some athletes will have to play two matches in a day, or at other times of day than they originally expected.

"We're so angry because it is only one day before competition and our pair have to play two matches on Monday. The organizers can't do this," said Poland's Nadiezda Zieba, competing in the mixed doubles.

"Mixed doubles (should) only play one match per day. And they changed our times. Our matches are at 8:30 in the morning and then 6:30 in the evening," she said. "Before we were playing Canada at 8:40 p.m., now we play Japan on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. It's not a good time for us in the morning."

German doubles player Johannes Schoettler, whose match was originally scheduled to be the first of the day, said he had "started getting up early the last few days to get ready." His match against the Taiwan doubles team will now take place Saturday evening, at 7:09 p.m.

Poland player Michal Logosz said the last-minute change would also cause problems for fans who had bought tickets to see specific matches.

"It's bad," he said, "it's not right. As this is London, this is England -- we all have many Polish friends here and many people coming from Poland. (There are) big logistical problems."

Some players, however, were not as concerned.

"I'm pretty used to playing two matches every day. It happens," said Jwala Gutta, competing for India in the women's and mixed doubles.

BWF technical delegate Paisan Rangsikitpho and tournament referee Torsten Berg explained the reasons for the change in a statement. "We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this change," they said.

Berg explained: "There was an oversight and it's human error that this had not been carefully checked by our own team and myself at the outset."

South African player Michelle Edwards was seeing the bright side of the new schedule.

"It is better for us as it means we can go to the opening ceremony this evening," she said. "It will be incredible being there, with one billion people watching."