An extra $50,000 in the Indonesia Open Super Series kitty looks unlikely to bring all the biggest names in badminton to Jakarta.
World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia has said he will skip the $650,000 event, which runs June 12 to 17, after suffering an injury during the recent Thomas Cup finals. Second-ranked Lin Dan of China will also sit out for unspecified reasons.
Yacob Rusdianto, head of the tournament organizing committee and Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) secretary general, said the field would still be star-studded.
“That won’t reduce the quality of the tournament because all the other top players will be here. The top Chinese female shuttlers have confirmed their participation,” he said on Monday.
After being shut out of the titles at last year’s Indonesia Open, the host is relying heavily on Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir to return to the winner’s circle. The duo has not lost since March, winning the All England and India Open Super Series titles on the way.
“This unbeaten run will motivate us for the upcoming Indonesia Open. It certainly boosts our spirits and we want to continue this run,” Tontowi said.
Tontowi and Liliyana lost in last year’s mixed doubles final to Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei of China. Only Lee’s victory in men’s singles prevented a Chinese sweep.
Local hopes also rest on Simon Santoso in men’s singles.
“It would be a pity if the prize money was all taken by foreign athletes. It’s better to keep it for us,” PBSI official Christian Hadinata said.
The PBSI has come under fire recently from former shuttlers over Indonesia’s waning standing in world badminton and the presence of Chinese coach Li Mao.
“Li Mao’s presence at the training center will remain until the end of the London Olympics and an evaluation will take place after that,” PBSI chairman Djoko Santoso said in a statement on Monday.
He also called for an end to criticism of the PBSI for the sake of the country, saying that employing foreign coaches was common in many sports.