By Ami Afriatni
Jakarta: The BCA Indonesia Open will return this year with plenty of prize money as the main sponsor has vowed to show its commitment to the development of badminton.
The Superseries Premier event, slated to take place June 2-7 at the Bung Karno Indoor Sporting Arena in Jakarta, offers a total of $800,000 in prize money, which is an increase of $50,000 from the previous iteration. The event’s main sponsor, Bank Central Asia, will provide the prize money.
“Sponsoring the tournament for the next few years through our corporate social responsibility program is meant to show our commitment to support national badminton development,” BCA president director Jahja Setiaatmadja told a press conference on Monday. “Badminton is our nation’s biggest hope to make sporting history … We hope our effort will help local talents become our future stars.”
Jahja added that the recent strengthening of the dollar had been challenging for the bank, but he said he was confident the institution would cope.
“I just hope our hard work will pay off — with outstanding performances by the athletes during the tournament. Last year, some of them did not show enough fighting spirit in the last stages, and they paid the price. I think this will be the homework for the PBSI [Indonesian Badminton Association].”
The upcoming event is part of the 2015 Badminton World Federation Superseries, which boasts seven Superseries and five Superseries Premier tournaments. The BCA Indonesia Open is the most lucrative tournament on the calendar.
All defending champions, including Jan O. Jorgensen, Liu Xuerui and men’s doubles pair Lee Yong-dae and Yoo Yeon-seong, are expected to defend their respective titles.
Last year, Indonesian shuttlers did not put up much of a fight and finished the campaign with no title. With the Jakarta tournament also serving as a qualification stage for the 2016 Rio Games, however, PBSI chairman Gita Wirjawan hopes to see good matches, especially from the hosts.
“We expect to see tight games during the tournament as athletes race to earn spots at the Rio Games. Plus, we want to end last year’s title drought,” said Gita.
He added that he also hoped that Indonesia’s young shuttlers would step up their game at the event.
“The BWF [Badminton World Federation] has labeled it as one of the world’s top tournaments, from which the world’s badminton community can learn from. It is a good test ground but also a confidence builder for the youngsters. Without a sponsor, we wouldn’t be able to attract the players, both local or foreign, to come and play.”
Indonesian men’s doubles pair Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi are among the shuttlers fighting for a spot in the Rio Games. And, the world’s number 18 pair is also eager to add a win after the men grabbed their first Superseries title in the Singapore Open in early April.
“We will play in front of the fans, on our home ground,” Angga said. “We just want to see another success, just like [the title] we claimed in Singapore. That would help a lot to raise our world ranking.”