Megawati to open IBF meet Novan Iman Santosa, Jakarta

President Megawati Soekarnoputri is scheduled to open the 65th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the International Badminton Federation (IBF) at the State Palace on Sunday, a top Indonesian badminton official said on Saturday.



"This is the first time that a head of state will open an IBF AGM. Several ministers will also attend the opening ceremony," Sulistyanto, the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) chief in charge of international relations, said on the sidelines of the Thomas and Uber Cups now underway at the Bung Karno Indoor Stadium in Jakarta.

An opening session of the AGM will be attended by Megawati and 10 delegates, including PBSI chairman Chairul Tanjung and IBF president Korn Dabbaransi. They will be discussing various issues surrounding badminton.

The AGM participants will then move to the Jakarta Convention Center, next to the badminton stadium, to discuss various issues related to the development of badminton

"One of the issues the meeting will discuss is a recommendation to move the IBF secretariat," said Sulistyanto. The IBF headquarters is currently located in Cheltenham, England.

He said several new homes were being considered for the secretariat, including Barbados, Kuala Lumpur, Lausanne and Singapore.

Asian countries have proposed that the IBF's headquarters be relocated to Asia in the hopes that this would reduce operational costs.

If the move took place, it is expected that part of the money saved could be used for development activities.

"We can save some US$800,000 to $850,000 if we relocate to Asia due to lower costs. This (remaining) money could be set aside in a development fund," said Sulistyanto.

He said the development fund could reach $1 million, with subsidies from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

European countries, especially Denmark, are pushing to relocate the secretariat to Lausanne, Switzerland, which is close to the IOC headquarters.

Sulistyanto said the campaign to move the secretariat to Lausanne stemmed from concerns that badminton could be dropped from the Olympics, and that having the IBF's headquarters in Lausanne would facilitate the lobbying of IOC officials.

"However, it would be even more expensive to have the headquarters there," he said.

Sulistyanto also revealed plans to set up an Asian training center in Guangzhou, China, in an effort to help badminton develop in Asian countries where the sport has yet to develop a foothold.

Another important issue that the meeting will discuss is how to revitalize interest in badminton, with the assumption that there has been a loss of interest in the sport in badminton strongholds such as Indonesia and Malaysia, he said.

"We are looking to combine badminton and tourism at the 2005 World Championships in Anaheim, California," said Sulistyanto. He said it would be invaluable for the development of the sport if it could catch on in the huge American market.