Kuala Lumpur: Badminton World Federation (BWF), the governing body of the sport of badminton has unveiled a revamped competition schedule for the year 2018 called the ‘World Tour’ to replace the existing Superseries and Superseries Premier tournaments.
BWF also made it compulsory for the world’s top 15 players in the singles events and top 10 pairs in the doubles disciplines to play a minimum of 12 tournaments in 2018, or face a stiff fine if they fail to comply.
In response to busy 2018 schedule, Malaysia’s 35-year-old World No. 2 men’s singles player Lee Chong Wei told reporters that for player his age, it’s going to be a huge burden for him to play in all 12 tournaments.
“In addition to the 12 tournaments, I will have to play in the Asian Team Championship, Commonwealth Games, Thomas Cup, Asian Championship, Asian Games, World Championship and Super Series Final, this will make it total of 19 tournaments for 2018,” said Lee.
“If I am still 25 years old, it shouldn’t be a problem for me, but it’s going to be difficult for me to play 19 tournaments at my age,” added Lee.
“I have talked to BWF and have asked for exemption, I hope they would consider my request,” said Lee.
“My main focus will be the Commonwealth and Asian Games in addition to the Thomas Cup. As for other tournaments, we will make decision upon further discussions with the coaches.”
After BWF has divided the structure of tournaments into different grades and levels for the 2018 calendar year, players and coaches from all round the world have raised their criticism for the cramped schedule.
India’s head coach Gopichand has said “I don’t agree to what they have in terms of getting players to play so many tournaments. There are players who’re already getting injured, performances have not been consistent at all and it doesn’t help the player’s cause when they have to continue to push themselves to play so many tournaments.”
Meanwhile, India’s women’s singles player Saina Nehwal Saina also blasted BWF for “totally not right” to have such a packed calendar, especially the compulsion on top players to compete in all Super Series events.
“If I were the president of BWF, I will follow the tennis way, and have four or five big events like the Grand Slams with a lot of prize money. I am happy that the prize money has improved but the calendar is hard. It affects the fitness of all the players. I need a lot of time to get back to my level,” said Nehwal.