Badminton’s Asian leg could be cluster blueprint for world tour.

The Badminton World Federation held a virtual press conference on Tuesday, September 29 to confirm the Asian leg of the badminton tournament calendar.

BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer, BWF Deputy President Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul and BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund answered a range of questions during BWF’s first such virtual interaction with world media.

Questions ranged from BWF’s decision to conduct the Asian leg of the 2020 season in January 2021, with three events in Bangkok, comparisons with other sports that have restarted tournaments and safety protocols in place in Thailand.

BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer expressed his sympathy for players under the current difficult circumstances, while reiterating BWF’s commitment to get tournaments started as early as possible.

“We are here for the players and we’re trying our best to get tournaments up and running,” Høyer said.

Asked why BWF had chosen to conduct the Asian leg in January 2021 and not in November 2020, Lund charted the complexity of the process.

“We had planned the European leg which included the TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals and two Denmark Opens in October. At the same time we announced we would plan an Asian leg. Setting up that level of events is a complex and big exercise. Simply due to time constraints we are not able to conduct it before January, which was found to be the best time to get the logistical arrangements in place.”

Lund noted that a lot of effort had gone into planning the resumption of the circuit, with the DANISA Denmark Open (13-18 October 2020) marking badminton’s long-awaited return.

Lund added that it was possible that the cluster model would be adopted for more tournaments if found suitable.

“We are looking into whether we can replicate that into further clusters in 2021. That’s part of the exercise we’re going through at the moment. This could be a blueprint on how we can conduct tournaments in an Asian leg, and how we can move that on in further cluster tournaments. But there are financial complexities that we are working to get through.”

Detailing the safety measures that would be in place for the Asian leg, IOC Member Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, also the President of the Badminton Association of Thailand, said all efforts were being taken to ensure the safety of participants.

“The safety and health of the Thai people and of the participants is our top priority. We have consulted with numerous Thai authorities to decide the most efficient COVID-19 safety measures. We came up with the bubble protocols which will be implemented during that period,” said Mrs Leeswadtrakul.

The OCA Executive Board member was confident of Thailand delivering high-quality events during the Asian leg, and invited journalists to attend.

Source: BWF