JAKARTA (AFP) — Malaysia's Punch Gunalan has been ousted as deputy president of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) after a vote of no confidence, ending months of internal wrangling and tension.
Badminton World Federation (BWF) deputy president Punch Gunalan in Kuala Lumpur
His demise follows a claim by BWF president Kang Young Joong, a Korean, that he was the victim of an attempted "coup d'etat" by Gunalan.
The 65-year-old's more than two-decade reign with the world governing body ended at an annual general meeting on Saturday on the sidelines of the Thomas and Uber Cup team championships here.
Delegates voted, in a secret ballot, 142-38 in favour of the no-confidence motion brought by the Mongolia Badminton Association, BWF secretary general Stuart Borrie told AFP.
"The vote was taken and the decision went against Punch. He has been a significant figure in the sport but the members gave their wishes and it must be respected," he said.
Mongolia said it was tabling the motion because Gunalan was "not at all interested in the welfare of the BWF but only interested in usurping the powers of the president," the Malaysia Star newspaper reported.
It added that "the deputy president has and is using the council to show his personal dislike of the president. And this was narrated in an e-mail to the members on the president's character."
Gunalan failed to show up for the meeting, flying home to Kuala Lumpur on Friday after resigning as chief operating officer.
Borrie, a New Zealander who was recruited in December to handle the day-to-day running of the BWF, admitted the atmosphere had not been good for some time.
"There has certainly been tension in the BWF and its administration," he said.
"I hope we can move on. There is a very positive future for the sport, we have the Olympics in August and we must now concentrate and focus on that."
Last August, Kang called a press conference to claim he was the victim of a power-grab by Gunalan and tensions have been simmering ever since.
"I would like to categorically confirm that this is a coup d'etat attempt with the sole idea of diverting the real issues of poor governance," Kang said at the time.
"The few sane voices within the federation are stifled and suddenly the role of the president has been usurped by the deputy president," he added, saying the crisis threatened badminton's chances of survival as an Olympic sport.
Borrie downplayed any threat to the sport's future from the internal bickering, saying there was plenty to look forward to.
"I don't believe we are under threat of not being at the Olympics after London in 2012," he said.
"But what we must do now consolidate and put the focus on the players and developing the sport. I think that is what will happen."