BWF looking at replicating cluster model for next year

PETALING JAYA: The Badminton World Federation (BWF) have hinted they may continue to adopt the cluster model for the start of the 2021 season.

And that could mean some tournaments that are part of the Tokyo Olympics qualification, including the Malaysian Open next April, could be bunched together with other events and played in a selected country.

The suspended Race to Tokyo is scheduled to resume early next year with 24 tournaments that were postponed, cancelled or suspended due to Covid-19 this year, to be completed by May 2.

The other notable tournaments are the German Open, Swiss Open, Indian Open, Singapore Open and the continental championships in Asia and Europe.

But first, BWF have vowed to make the three Asian legs of the World Tour in Bangkok in January a success in order for it to become the blueprint.

“We are looking at whether we can replicate that into further clusters in 2021,” said BWF secretary general Thomas Lund in a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

“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.”

Lund was pressed by the media on the world body’s indecisiveness to restart the season, which led to frustrations from the badminton fraternity.

This includes the delay of the Asian legs from its original dates in November.

“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,” stressed Lund.

Lund also pointed out the magnitude of the complexities faced by BWF in his response to why badminton was more difficult than other sports to return to action.

“The challenges are not as big if you don’t have to cross so many national borders,” he said.

“In our normal tournament structure, we have 300 to 400 players coming from 40 to 60 countries. The big challenge here is that we need them getting out of their countries, and then getting in to the host countries, with quarantine restrictions and so on, which are being dealt differently in different countries.

“That creates a complexity in getting that many people together in one location. That’s what we are trying to bridge by creating this cluster in Thailand, where we can play a number of tournaments in the same location.”

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