Badminton Life

India to host US$1.2 million tournament in April

With the bird flu and shuttlecock crisis apparently dying down, India is looking forward to hosting one of their biggest ever badminton tournaments, the Indian Open in April.

Top international players such as China's world number one Xie Xingfang, second-ranked Zhang Ning and Zhu are expected to take part in the US$1.2 million event, which is also acting as a qualification tournament for August's Olympic Games in Beijing.

The touurnament is being organised by the Badminton Association of India and NEB Sports Entertainment (P) Ltd. It is a World Badminton Grand Prix tournament and will be held at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad from April 1-6.

The Indian Open is among the last tournaments before the Olympics and has attracted 230 players from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, England as well as the host country.

Only last month, Indian badminton was in disarray with a shortage of shuttlecocks. The government decided to suspend the import of Chinese-made shuttlecocks because of bird flu fears.

However, the Indian Open is going full steam ahead and BAI president VK Verma is looking forward to a great show from local players such as Anup Sridhar and Saina Nehwal.

"Playing in front of home audience, this tournament would serve as the best opportunity for Indian players to qualify for the Beijing Games," said Verma.

Also excited about the tournament is Pullela Gopichand, who is a former All England men's singles champion.

He said: "In the form of India Open 2008, India will get to witness the skills of some of the best players in the world and this will help us analyse our strengths in the run-up to the 2009 World Badminton Championship and 2010 Commonwealth Games, both to be held in New Delhi."

Organisers are hoping to make the most of the event and drum up media and fan support. During the run-up to the tournament, the organising committee has planned various promotional activities involving sports personalities, film stars and school children.

"The opening and closing ceremonies would be grand gala events with a mix of talent and glamour," said S. Nagaraj, chairman and managing director, NEB Sports.

He also said that an official website would be launched during the main event for easy accessibility of information related to participating nations, players, matches and results.

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