Currently based in KL, BWF mulling a new home base and Switzerland, England and Singapore are possibilities

by Low Lin Fhoong, TODAY online
05:55 AM Sep 07, 2010

SINGAPORE - The Republic is currently basking in the afterglow of hosting the first Youth Olympic Games successfully.

In a little over two weeks, Formula 1's first night race will return to Marina Bay.

Preliminary work on the Sports Hub has already started and the clock is ticking down to the completion of the huge project, set for April 2014.

By then, Singapore could also be home to the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

Currently located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the world governing body of badminton is considering relocating its headquarters and the likes of Switzerland (Lausanne), England and Singapore are possible destinations.

In an interview with MediaCorp last month, BWF deputy president Paisan Rangsikitpho said: "It's possible (to bring the headquarters to Singapore). We want to go wherever people want us and whether it's the best for badminton and our office.

"Europe wants us, and many other countries are interested to host us and there's also the consideration to stay in Malaysia ... we have to see what's best for the BWF."

While the BWF have not outlined any fixed criteria for interested candidates, the current arrangement with Malaysia includes tax exemption, free office space and grants.

According to Malaysian newspaper The Star, Malaysia also pays RM500,000 ($216,300) annually to the BWF.

The Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) are ready to welcome the world body here.

"SBA welcomes BWF's consideration of doing more out of Singapore," said president Lee Yi Shyan.

"Singapore, as home to 7,000 multinationals, is already a favourite headquarters location with strong connectivity to the region and beyond. We believe the same advantages would benefit BWF if they were based in Singapore."

The BWF plan to introduce the new Premier Super Series next year.

The series will offer more prize money and ranking points.

The inaugural series will see five tournaments from the current 12 in the super series calendar elevated to Premier status, with increased prize money for the next three years - the US$1.2 million ($1.6 million) Korea Open, Indonesia Open (US$600,000), All England (US$350,000), China Open (US$350,000) and Denmark Open (US$350,000).

The BWF are in the midst of finalising a title sponsorship deal for the new series and Rangsikitpho said: "We wanted to take the super series one level up and push the prize money higher. We're halfway now to the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) of maybe about US$2 to US$3 million prize money but we don't have grand slam stature yet. We're making some inroads here and hopefully attracting more players to play."

Employing a 32-player format, the Premier series will require compulsory participation from the world's top 10 men's and women's shuttlers, with a fine imposed on players who skip the tournaments.

Rangsikitpho was in town for the Youth Olympic Games and watched the badminton competition, which was held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from Aug 15 to 19.

Changes are in store for the next edition in Nanjing, 2014.

With the Youth Olympic competition only allowing shuttlers aged 17 and 18 to compete, fans were unable to catch rising stars Viktor Axelsen, 16, of Denmark and Thailand's Ratchanok Inthanon, 15, in action in the boys' and girls' singles, respectively. Both world junior champions were unable to compete as they were underage.

"They were not old enough because of IOC regulations but we're looking to change that ... it should be under-18. We want the best to come ... if they are the best of the world's juniors, they should be here," explained Rangsikitpho.