New Delhi: After cricket, hockey and football, the badminton world is looking at India as a preferred hub. The just-concluded third edition of the India Open Super Series here has created a market buzz for more international events.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is obviously pleased with the way the $200,000 event was organised at the Siri Fort Sports Complex as it did not waste time in recognising the Indian leg on a par with other major Super Series. The event, originally allotted for three years in 2011, got an extension till 2017 last year.
The immediate offshoot of the successful conduct of the Tier-2 event at the Siri Fort world class infrastructure is the allotment of the prestigious Tier-1 2014 Thomas Cup and Uber Cup finals to India. The Thomas, Uber, and Sudirman Cups, Olympics, and World Championships are all Tier-1 events while the Super Series tournaments are in tier-2. Tier-3 tournaments are Grands Prix and finally come the Level-4 International Challenge Series.
Thanks to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, badminton got a truly high-class infrastructure, and now the BWF sees a huge potential for marketing the game in India.
"The infrastructure and the stadia are excellent and the players are very happy with the arrangements. We see a huge potential here and that's why India Open was preferred over Swiss Open which was relegated to Grand Prix Gold," BWF deputy president Paisan Rangsikitpho told IANS.
"India has one of the best venues. The Siri Fort Sports Complex can accommodate five playing courts while there are many more for practice and that helps in running through the initial rounds as scheduled without undue delay," he added.
BWF secretary general Thomas Lund is impressed with the steady improvement in the conduct of India Open with each passing year and importantly the growth of the sport in India.
"The infrastructure is good here. I have been seeing the India Open Super Series over the years and I have to say that things are improving with each passing year," Lund told IANS.
What baffles the organisers is that despite such good facilities, some of the world's top players skip the India Open every year. This time, women's singles defending champion and Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui of China gave it a miss.
"Actually, India Open gets isolated in the calendar and that does not enthuse many players to come here. All big tournaments are generally lined up in a cluster and it becomes logistically easy for players to play back-to-back events," BWF Super Series marketing manager Selvam Supramaniam of Malaysia told IANS.
How did he rate the Super Series events?
"Well every Super Series has its own pluses and minuses. For instance, Indonesia Open has a huge fan following because it has a badminton culture and it produced some of the game's greats like Taufik Hidayat. At the All-England, the tradition as well as the presentation is what makes it special. In Malaysia, crowds come in to see World No.1 Lee Chong Wei, who has a huge following back home.
"In India it is the media coverage and Saina Nehwal, who bring crowds to the stadium. In any case, the players must have a pleasant experience to come back to an event," Supramaniam signed off.