The much-awaited domestic badminton season will return after almost a year-long COVID-19-induced hiatus with two senior ranking tournaments marking the resumption of the revamped circuit in April, the game governing body, BAI, said on Saturday. The decision was taken during Badminton Association of India’s (BAI) Executive Committee meeting which was held virtually on Saturday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After discussing with the state units, BAI also decided to recommence all the national camps for senior and juniors shuttlers from April.
“It’s has been a tough time for our players as well as all the stakeholders associated with the game who had to sit out for such a long time,” BAI President Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a release.
“However, the arrival of the vaccine has brought new hope and confidence, and after deliberating and evaluating the tournament execution plans and the safety protocols, I can say, we are confident of the resumption.”
According to the revamped domestic structure, the senior ranking tournament will now be classified into three levels wherein Level 3 will have 6 series tournaments in the year, while Level 2 will have 4 Super Series tournaments.
“The Premier Super Series Tournament is bracketed as the Level 1 tournament which will have two tournaments per year.
“The tournaments will also see a lucrative prize money with Level 1 being valued at 25 lakhs. Level 2 and Level 3 will have 15 lakhs and 10 lakhs prize money for the respective tier tournaments while 50 Lakhs for the Senior Nationals Championships,” read the BAI statement. BAI general secretary Ajay Singhania said players’ safety remained their top-most priority and there will be no compromise on players’ health while conducting these tournaments.
“The new tournament structure and revised prize money will not only encourage and bring positivity in the ecosystem, but we also hope this structure will ensure more exposure to potential and new talents in the country,” he said.
The governing body said that the two senior ranking tournaments which will restart the season, “will be part of the Level 3 tournaments and will be played with a draw of 64 in singles and 32 in doubles with hosts receiving 2 quotas in singles and 1 in doubles.
“There will be no restrictions in the number of qualification participation though 32 entries from singles and 16 from doubles will progress through the qualifiers.”
The Yonex-Sunrise India Open Super 500, the final qualifying tournament for Tokyo Olympics, will be held in a dazzling atmosphere with the BAI revamping the Indira Gandhi Stadium. BAI also decided to include the junior shuttlers, who are potential prospects for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics and are part of the Junior Tops Scheme, in the nationals camp in April.
“These junior shuttlers will be training in the five BAI-SAI junior academies in Guwahati, Panchkula, Gopichand-SAI badminton Academy, PPBA-Bangalore and Babu Banarsi Das Badminton Academy in Lucknow. The juniors’ training will be initiated in a phased manner.”
The governing body also said that “all the necessary coach’s selection will also be completed ahead of the camps by the month of March”.