When the domestic season begins next month with back-to-back senior-ranking Level 3 tournaments, Indian badminton players will return to competitive activity after an almost 20-month hiatus.The season will kick off with a Level 3 tournament in Chennai from December 16 to 22, followed by a Level 4 tournament in Hyderabad from December 24 to 30.Both events have a prize pool of Rs 10 lakh and are part of the Badminton Association of India’s (BAI) new domestic structure, which was authorised in 2019 but not implemented earlier owing to the pandemic.
The domestic season will commence with all Covid-related protocols in place, according to BAI secretary Ajay Singhania, and it is mandatory for players to carry RTPCR negative reports. “Covid disrupted not just sports but life in general, but we are pleased to announce the resumption of the Indian domestic badminton season. We have some world-class players and all the players getting back on the court is great news for the badminton fraternity.”
The senior ranking tournaments are classified into three levels: Level 3 — BAI Series Badminton Tournament (six in a year), Level 2 – BAI Super Series Badminton Tournament (four in a year), Level 1 — BAI Premier Super Series Badminton Tournament (two in a year).With a prize pool of Rs 2.2 crores for the domestic senior-ranking tournaments, Level 3 category tournaments are the preliminary events carrying prize money of Rs 10 lakh, while Level 2 tournaments, to be played twice, have a purse of Rs 15 lakh each followed by a Premier tournament with prize money of Rs 25 lakh.
Then there’s the National Championships, with a prize purse of Rs 50 lakh. Apart from being financially lucrative to the players, the aim of the format is to make the domestic circuit increasingly competitive by allowing more players to break into the main circuit.