One of the men behind the scenes of Badminton Australia’s successful bid to host one of the events of the BWF World Superseries, Mr. Loke Poh Wong, spoke to Badzine last weekend, expressing his gratitude towards the opportunity to hold the Australian Superseries for 2014-2017.
By Rudy Chandra, Badzine Correspondent. Photos courtesy of Badminton Australia
On November 30th, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced that in its 8th year, the BWF World Superseries would spread to three continents, as Badminton Australia’s bid for Sydney to be among the twelve host cities was accepted. The Australian Open Superseries will thus replace one event in China, which has hosted two each year since the Superseries began in 2007.
With the success in 2012 of the Australian Open Grand Prix Gold, Mr. Loke Poh Wong – a Board member of Badminton Australia and also the Event Director for the Australian Open – hopes that 2013 Grand Prix Gold will be the best Grand Prix Gold before the highly anticipated Superseries. Mr. Wong spoke to us about Badminton Australia’s outlook for this new chapter for the Australian Badminton Open.
Badzine:How do you feel about this successful bid that has promoted the Australian Badminton Open from Grand Prix Gold to BWF Superseries status?
Loke Poh Wong:We are of course overjoyed with this fantastic news. We had worked hard in putting in a bid that fully meets all the Superseries requirements. Over the past 5 years, we have built the Australian Open from an International Series level to a Grand Prix Gold. Although the organizing committee and the host city of Sydney are very excited and eager to run this prestigious event in 2014, we are now focussed on the coming 2013 Grand Prix Gold and await the many players that will be coming to this event.
Badzine:How it will affect the sport in general?
L.P. Wong:It will have a major positive impact on the badminton community not just in Australia but also the Oceania region. To have a Superseries here in Sydney will add to the spread of the Superseries from currently 2 Confederations (Olympic rings) to now 3 Confederations (Asia, Europe and Oceania). Badminton players and fans from the Oceania countries will now be better able to participate in the Superseries.
It will also raise the public awareness of the sport through local media coverage. With the growth of the sport worldwide and the world audience watching the event in Australia, we hope the Australian Sport Commission and all the relevant state and territorial government sporting bodies will be able to assist with the growth of badminton locally as well.
Badzine:Did Australia initially bid for Superseries or Superseries Premier?
L.P. Wong:Australia bid for both [proposing US$700,000 for a Superseries event and $1 million for a Premier]. We fully understand the decision taken by BWF in that it should not be prize money alone that decides who gets a Superseries or Superseries Premier. I am sure the other countries that have bid for Superseries and missed out would have been fantastic hosts themselves. It must have been a very tough decision for BWF.
Badzine:Will the last Grand Prix Gold in 2013 will be the testing ground for ideas before applying it next year?
L.P. Wong:We are aware that the BWF is looking at trialling new ideas that may change the current competition rules like the fixed service height, electronic line calls, etc. Australia has in the past assisted the BWF in conducting the rally scoring and reporting on the outcome when the then 3×15 points scoring (with points scored only on serve) was in use. If our Grand Prix Gold or local non-BWF sanctioned tournament can trial and assist BWF in acquiring useful data, we are more than happy to assist.
Badzine:There are signs on the Badminton Australia’s Facebook page that the Association is involved with testing the line judging technology. Do you know any details about this technology? Do you think badminton need this technology?
L.P. Wong:I am sure there are several companies around the world capable of this technology. It is not for Badminton Australia to reveal any commercial interest or technology conducted by private companies. We are just assisting with the trials. But if this technology is proven to be accurate and responsive and not intrusive to how the sport is currently played, I think it will be good for the spectacle of the sport as can be seen in other sports that use this to enhance their respective experience. But it’s still in the early stages and it has a long way to go.
Badzine:Both Canada and the U.S. have hosted high-level tournaments for a longer time than Australia. Do you consider this to be a coup that Australia managed to bid successfully for a Superseries before the U.S. and Canada could? Or is this a logical result, looking at the effort from the Australian association?
L.P. Wong:I don’t think there is any coup involved and it is not a promotion as such from a Grand Prix Gold to a Superseries. All countries are invited to bid for a spot in the 12-leg Superseries with the Superseries Final a different bid. Expressions of interest were submitted by 17 countries including Australia, USA and Canada. But when the final submission is due only 14 countries submitted an official bid and the USA and Canada did not submit.
Badzine:Back to the Australian Superseries, will it be in the same venue for 2014?
L.P. Wong:All Grand Prix Gold events in Sydney including next year’s in April, are held in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour. The 2014-2017 Superseries will, however, be hosted in the Sports Centre of the Sydney Olympic Park as part of the legacy of hosting this Superseries was that it continued on with the Olympic legacy of when Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympics.
The 2013 Yonex Australian Badminton Open Grand Prix Gold will be held from April 2nd to 7th next spring.