Badminton Life

Major Blow as China Pull Out of Finals

China stunned world governing body Badminton World Federation when they pulled out all their players from the season-sending Super Series Masters Finals in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

The US$500,000 starting this week is meant to be the grand finale to the 2008 season, which comprised of 12 Super Series tournaments that was scheduled around the Olympic Games in Beijing.

However, the prestige and credibility of the event received a major blow when the Chinese informed organisers that their players, including Olympic men's singles player Lin Dan will not be taking part.

The Chinese put forward three reasons for withdrawing from the tournament ┬ĘC their players are tired after a long season that revolved around the Olympics and included the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals; some of the players have been suffering from injuries; and the squad will be involved in a three-month training camp.

As well as the Masters Finals, the Chinese players will also be missing from the first two Super Series events of the year in Malaysia and South Korea, both in January.

BWF tried to put on a brave face, citing the presence of Malaysia's world number one Lee Chong Wei and Denmark's Peter Gade as providing star power.

Secretary general Stuart Borrie was quoted in the media as saying: "We respect China's decision. Despite their absence, we still have a quality field. In singles, we have Chong Wei and Peter. It will still be a success."

The Chinese players who had qualified for the Finals were: Lin Dan and All-England winner Chen Jin (men's singles); women singles players Lu Lan and Zhu Lin; men's doubles pair of Fu Haifeng and Cai Yun; women's doubles players Du Jing and Yu Yang, and Zhao Yunlei and Cheng Shu; and the mixed doubles pairs of He Hanbin and Yu Yang, and Xie Zhongbo and Zhang Yawen.

Indonesia's former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat had also initially pulled out of the tournament because of a wrist injury.

However, organisers were able to heave a sigh of relief when the former world number one backtracked and decided to play in the tournament after all.

Organising Committee chairman Maijol Mahap was quoted as saying: "I am so relieved and glad that Taufik will be taking part in the Masters Finals after all. He has a great following in Sabah and his presence will certainly see his fans lining up at our tickets booths tomorrow."

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