New Straits Times » Sport Badminton: China’s ABC bid could derail Malaysian campaign K.M. Boopathy Jan 04: CHINA are interested in hosting the Asian Badminton championships and should they win the bid, Malaysian shuttlers could be at a disadvantage as the tournament is the last qualifying event for the Athens Olympics. Initially, the BA of Malaysia were in a good position to earn the hosts job but Asian Badminton Confederation (ABC) secretary Datuk Punch Gunalan confirmed that China are also serious as the tournament will give them an opportunity to finalise their Olympic squad. "China are interested as it will give their players a chance to fight for Olympic berths. This means BAM must make a strong bid if they want to become hosts," said Gunalan in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. "However, a decision has not been made as discussions regarding sponsorship are still on going. The ABC championships is not just about prize money but it also includes development where we would have to provide free air tickets and accommodation for the smaller nations in the continent. "Since the Malaysian shuttlers will have a better opportunity to qualify for the Olympics if the tournament is held in Kuala Lumpur, BAM should look at their bid seriously." So far, Wong Choong Hann and doubles pair Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah are the only Malaysians who have confirmed their places in the Olympics. Players like Lee Chong Wei and Hafiz Hashim are still fighting to qualify for the Olympics and if the tournament is held in Malaysia, it will boost their chances. Malaysia can earn a maximum of three places in the Olympics if three or more players are in the top-16 of the world ranking once the qualifying period ends on April 30. Chong Wei, ranked 18th, and Hafiz, ranked 19th, will be involved in a keen battle with players from China, Indonesia, South Korea and Denmark to break into the top-16 and good results in the ABC championships should help their cause. Doubles pairs Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng and Gan Teik Chai-Koo Kien Keat are also in a desperate hunt for ranking points for a ticket to Athens and will be looking forward to the tournament to achieve their goal. The Chinese shuttlers are almost unbeatable at home and this is reason enough for BAM to make a strong bid to host the ABC championships in Kuala Lumpur. ABC will announce their decision next week.