Badminton Life

Bahrain to Host International Event

In 2007, the profile of the Gulf as the money-spinning future of badminton took a major hit when the Super Series Grand Finale, originally supposed to be held in Qatar, was cancelled.

The tournament was meant to be the closing extravaganza to the inaugural Super Series season featuring the best players over the previous 12 months.

Doha, Qatar, which is in the heart of sponsorship-rich Middle East, was chosen as the venue. However, months before the event was due to take place, it was announced that a lack of sponsorship money had forced organisers to cancel the tournament.

It was a big blow to the Badminton World Federation's (BWF) efforts to bring the curtain down on their revamped professional circuit in style.

It also caused mistrust of the Gulf's ability to attract sponsors for badminton, which is not a major sport in the region.

However, some Middle Eastern countries are trying to restore their reputation as a good place to hold badminton tournaments, albeit in a small way.

One of them is Bahrain, which is organising a US$15,000 tournament for later this year. Sanctioned by the BWF and Badminton Asia Confederation, the Bahrain International Challenge is expected to attract more than 100 players from 20 countries.

The December 1-6 event will be held at the Indian Club with organisers hoping to lure more than 5,000 spectators to watch the matches.

All five disciplines - men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles - will be contested and, although the prize money is far below that of even second-tier Grand Prix events, the competition is expected to be tough.

Iranian Ahmad Pahlavan has been appointed as the tournament referee with his compatriot Zahra Rahmaty chosen to be his deputy.

Details of the tournament were announced by officials of the Bahrain Badminton and Squash Federation, including technical division chairman Dhafer Saffy, national team director Hisham Al Khan, club president Mohan Josiah, club secretary Ulhas Karnavar, badminton secretary NK Raghavan, tournament director KM Cherian, and assistant director Rajesh Achath.

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