PETALING JAYA: Will the Badminton World Federation (BWF) proceed with their unprecedented bid to have all four major tournaments staged this year?
At this juncture, it seems a bit too ambitious after the world body postponed the Sudirman Cup, slated for May 23-30 in Suzhou, China on Monday.
The prestigious mixed team event is one of the four majors planned for this year alongside the Tokyo Olympics (July 23-Aug 8), Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark from Oct 9-17 and World Championships in Huelva, Spain (Nov 29-Dec 5).
The postponement of the Sudirman Cup was expected following the rescheduling of several World Tour events cum Olympic qualifiers including the Malaysian Open.The Malaysian Open, initially scheduled for March 31-April 5 has now been slated to May 25-30 and it clashes with the Sudirman Cup dates.
However, the status of the Sudirman Cup is still in doubt regardless as China’s borders remain shut and their shuttlers banned from travelling.
The latest revised calendar released last week also saw another three tournaments – Malaysian Masters (April 6-11), Indonesian Master (June 1-6) and Indonesian Open (June 8-13) – postponed until further notice.
Hence, it remains to be seen if these tournaments, including the Sudirman Cup, are able to find a suitable window within the already-packed last five months of the 2021 calendar.
Pending the Chinese government’s decision on its borders, BWF could opt to establish cluster tournaments by hosting the Sudirman Cup and China Open back-to-back in September.
The China Open is tentatively scheduled in Changzhou from Sept 21-26.
BWF are already using the bubble system for both the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals and Denmark Open (Oct 19-24) in October.
While the dates have already been secured for the Denmark clusters, the same can’t be said for China as it would require further rescheduling of the World Tour calendar.
The China Open is sandwiched between the Taiwan Open (Sept 7-12) and Japan Open (Sept 28-Oct 3).
If anything, the Sudirman Cup is still at risk of losing its sparkle with most teams likely to prioritise the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals more than the former.
Since its inception in 1989, the Sudirman Cup has taken place biennially without fail. China are the most successful side with 11 titles.
The tournament was never Malaysia’s forte though, having reached the semi-finals only once in 2009.
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