BWF to review World Tour participation rule in May AGM

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) will review its decision of making it mandatory for top shuttlers to play at least 12 tournaments in a revamped schedule for 2018, association vice president Vishu Tolan said here on Tuesday.

The BWF has made it compulsory for the world's top 15 players in the singles events and top 10 pairs in the doubles disciplines to play a minimum of 12 out of 15 tournaments of the World Tour or face a penalty.

This year also will see the Thomas & Uber Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, making it difficult for players to maintain their fitness.

Several top players, including the likes of Saina Nehwal, Carolina Marin and Viktor Axelsen have slammed the world badminton governing body's decision.

Tolan said that the BWF will discuss the issue at its BWF Annual General Meeting on May 19. "The decision will come for review in May. BWF looks after its players and won't disregard their concerns," Tolan, the Pan-American Badminton Association Chairman, told reporters ahead of the India Open.

"It was done to make the circuit commercially viable -- the athletes will benefit from this. But that doesn't mean we will priotise commercial viability against the athletes' interest, though we have a responsibility to give back value to our sponsors," the Jamaican added.

"The sponsorships of the tour will grow three-four folds over the next three-four years, so we also need to make it sustainable for all partners. But we will definitely hear the voices of our players -- it is because of them we have this tour."

Tolan also defended the new controversial service rule, under which it has been mandated that the whole of the shuttle must be below 1.15 metres from the surface of the court at the moment it touches the server's racket. "It was one of the easiest decision," he insisted.

Tall players, like reigning world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, have complained about the huge advantage that the experimental rule gives to the shorter players.

Some of the players have also complained of bringing the new rule in effect at a prestigious event like the All-England, in Birmingham from March 14 to 18. "At this tournament, it is easy to showcase our game. You can splash it (to reach wide audience)," Tolan said.

--IANS

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