Niken Prathivi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
A total of 457 under-19 shuttlers from 13 countries are taking part in the inaugural US$10,600 Tangkas-Alfamart Open Badminton Championships 2008.
The tournament, to be held at the Tennis Indoor Stadium of the Bung Karno sports complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, started Tuesday.
Participating countries are France, the Philippines, Singapore, Korea, the United States, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Africa and host Indonesia.
Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) chairman Sutiyoso said during the opening ceremony that the event is good for helping enrich Indonesian young shuttlers' experience of international competitions.
"Our (young) players need more challenges to hone their skills. This event has something to offer thanks to the participation of the foreign shuttlers," said Sutiyoso, whose term in the association will end next month.
"Hopefully, we can find more talented players during the tournament."
Tournament director Juniarto Suhandinata said that 188 shuttlers would compete in the men's singles, 78 in the women's singles, 97 in the men's doubles, 39 in the women's doubles and 55 in the mixed doubles.
Alfamart's corporate communications manager Didit Setiadi said most of the participants were Indonesian, with 409 shuttlers coming from 33 provinces across the country. The remaining 48 players come from overseas, including 17 from Singapore.
The world's badminton powerhouse, China, has not sent any athletes as it is holding a similar tournament at home, Didit said, adding his company was pursuing the possibility of the tournament being included in the Badminton World Federation's official calendar.
The tournament is organized jointly by Tangkas badminton club, one of the top badminton clubs in the country, and chain store operator PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya, which runs retail outlets Alfamart.