Badminton Life

BWF Fury Over Olympic Move to Wembley Arena

There are more rumblings about the plans by London 2010 Olympic organisers to move the site of the proposed badminton event.

Soon after London won the bid to stage the 2010 Olympic Games, it was decided to stage the badminton events at a temporary arena that was going to cost 40 million pounds sterling to build.

However, with the recent global economic downturn, London organisers are eager to cut costs. And one way would be to scrap plans to build the ad hoc stadium in Greenwich, which was also to host rhythmic gymnastics.

This was based on advice from accounting firm KPMG. The new plan is to move the events to Wembley Arena, which is already built and therefore helps to reduce costs.

However, this plan has been met with fierce resistance from world governing body Badminton World Federation (BWF).

The BWF believes having it in Wembley would mean lengthy and unnecessary travelling time for players, coaches and officials from the Athletes Village in Stratford to the arena.

The facilities at Wembley Arena are not in doubt because the venue, which can hold 7,000 spectators, has been approved to host the BWF's flagship tournament, the World Badminton Championships, in 2011.

However, the issue is the distance players have to travel, which would affect their ability to be at their best during matches.

It may mean that some athletes may have to wake up in the early hours of the morning simply to make their starting times.

BWF secretary general BWF was quoted as saying in London media: "Wembley is right on the opposite side to where we are currently located.

"If you get athletes who are starting at 9am, and they have to get up at 5am and be in a bus for an hour, they are not going to be very happy."

It was decided to couple badminton and rhythmic gymnastics in the same venue because the two sports have similar requirements. Both need air-tight venues with high ceilings.

Apart from Wembley, the ExCel venue in the Royal Docks is another alternative to host the two sports at the London Games.

Badminton was one of the most popular sports at August's Beijing Olympics, regularly attracting thousands of spectators.

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