(ATR) The HSBC BWF World Tour Finals, the signature event of the badminton season, begins on Tuesday in Guangzhou, China.
Monday's draw ceremony ahead of HSBC World Tour Finals (Badminton Photo)
This is the inaugural version of the World Tour Finals under a remodeling of the World Tour by the Badminton World Federation that took effect at the beginning of 2018. Only the cream of the crop qualifies for the season-ending tournament, which features a total prize pool of $1.5 million.
This is the first of a four-year deal for Guangzhou to host the Finals, which were previously held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The tournament was also rebranded from the “BWF Superseries Finals” to the “HSBC WBF World Tour Finals”.
Global banking company HSBC came on board as the Principal Global Partner of the BWF, meaning the company has a corporate presence across all BWF events including being the title sponsor of the annual BWF World Tour and World Tour Finals.
The banking group is also a BWF Global Development Partner that will assist the federation in growing the sport across the world.
"The new HSBC BWF World Tour has been well-received and brought new excitement to the badminton landscape," BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund tells Around the Rings
ahead of the World Tour Finals.
Lund answered questions about the rebranding and the HSBC sponsorship as part of an interview.
: What are your thoughts and takeaways from the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires?
: The 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games was a great event. There was a really high standard of badminton in Buenos Aires, and a great atmosphere across the city and at all sporting venues. We were really excited to test our team relay event in which points from each match accumulated up to a team total of 110 points, with the winning team the first to reach that mark. It was a fresh, new concept and one that was very successful and well accepted by players, coaches and officials. It’s unique in that teams were comprised of mixed nations, so we had players from less-traditional Member Associations matched with representatives from powerhouse countries. It was a perfect stage to test such a concept and a great way to showcase badminton to developing badminton centres of Argentina and South America.
BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund (ATR)
: This is the first of a four year deal to hold the World Tour Finals in Guangzhou. Is this a new direction - multi-year hosting deals for events?
: Our move to Guangzhou represents a return to the heartland of badminton. It is a very similar deal to the one we had in Dubai – and other partnerships with other host cities in the past – and we are extremely grateful for the strong relationship we were able to forge with our friends in the United Arab Emirates. We have gone from untested waters in Dubai, where we were able to grow the sport in that region, and now look forward to returning to China with the opportunity to build the event into an international spectacle over a number of years.
: How has the rebranding been going? You changed the name when you moved from Dubai.
HSBC BWF World Tour Finals trophy (Badminton Photo)
: The new HSBC BWF World Tour has been well-received and brought new excitement to the badminton landscape. The HSBC BWF World Tour Finals is now the signature event of the season for which only the cream of the crop qualifies. It caps off a tremendous first 12 months in the partnership between the Badminton World Federation and our Principal Global Partner and title sponsor of the World Tour, HSBC and we look forward to evolving this relationship in the years to come. From the feedback we have received, the restructured World Tour has appealed to fans and players alike, with higher prize money, greater coverage on television and spectacular presentation.
: BWF also has a new sponsor - HSBC. One of the goals has been to grow the sport worldwide. What has happened so far? What is still to come?
: Our overall objective is to continuously grow the sport worldwide. Through our partnership with our new Principal Global Partner, HSBC, we now have a platform to accentuate and accelerate this growth. We look forward to embarking on this journey together with HSBC – the world’s leading financial institution – and utilising their energy and vision to take the sport to new heights. We believe our partnership is a natural one, given HSBC’s standing as a brand of excellence, and we are delighted to enter this new era of global badminton with them at our side.
: Para badminton to set to debut in Tokyo. How are preparations going?
: It is certainly a landmark occasion for our sport to see Para badminton debuting at Tokyo 2020. It is fantastic for our players and wider badminton community to be accepted into the Paralympic Games and be part of the programme. Japan is also a fitting backdrop for this historic moment, given their strong connection to Para sports and having hosted numerous Para badminton tournaments in the past. We have a great opportunity to raise the awareness of the sport in the next 18 months and create a lasting legacy following Tokyo 2020.
What are the areas of biggest growth for the sport? Still China? Asia? Any other regions where you are making exceptional strides? Any areas you are specifically targeting for improvement?
: China and Asia remain vital growth areas for badminton as we head towards 2020 and beyond. We’re also making strong inroads in our second biggest region Europe, as well as building a greater presence in developing centres in Pan America, Oceania and Africa. We see Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 as fantastic long-term targets to broaden our development initiatives and create a strategic position for the sport around new projects and partnerships. We are in particular looking at a perpetual campaign related to Los Angeles 2028, together with our national association in the USA, where the long lead in time to the Games will provide scope to grow the sport further in both Los Angeles and across the country.
Written by Gerard Farek
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