The Badminton Association of India (BAI) is ready to shift the annual $250,000 India Open Super Series and the cash-rich Indian Badminton League out of the National Capital.
The latest edition of the India Open, that began on Monday, could well be the last Super Series event here. The BAI is keeping its fingers crossed ahead of the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals — the World Team championship — scheduled here next month.
Driven to the point of desperation by “the never-ending demands” of the Delhi Police and the “unfriendly policies” of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the BAI is looking at Chennai and Pune as possible venues for next year's India Open. Delhi's matches of the IBL could be shifted even to Dubai.
The Siri Fort Indoor Stadium turns into a fortress each year for the India Open.
The complex has an underground parking for about 500 cars but the Police, citing security reasons, sets a limit of 50 cars. Even these are allowed only after the organisers hand over the registration numbers of the cars.Severe inconvenience
This diktat obviously leads to severe inconvenience for the spectators.
On arrival at the main gate, they have no choice but to search for parking space in the vicinity's residential area.
Vehicles of various sponsors, caterers and media need prior clearance, complete with the registration numbers.
In short, chaos reigns in the complex hosting the country's richest and most prestigious badminton event each year.
“We are fed up,” said a senior BAI official, exasperation writ large on his face, on Tuesday “Holding events at this venue is so frustrating. When we pay (close to Rs. 30 lakh) for the space and services, why do we get harassed by the authorities?” he asked.
“Less than 10 days ago, Delhi Police handed us a letter denying permission to use the premises. This was after we had written to them in February seeking permission. We were assured clearance at meetings with officials at various levels. Disgusted, we even thought of shifting the event to Lucknow.”
What kept the tournament in the Capital was the timely intervention by the DDA Vice-Chairman Balvinder Kumar. “We owe him a lot. He saw the importance of the event and helped us.
“Mr. Kumar has also assured us that the prevailing policies of the DDA (which is also “Infrastructure partner” for the event) would be revised in the interest of the sports federations holding events of such magnitude,” acknowledged the BAI office-bearer.Chennai is ready
On Tuesday, the absence of a scanning machine at one of the gates meant no one was allowed to carry any bags inside the stadium.
Vehicles carrying food, equipment and promotional material etc. too, were denied entry thereby causing much worry for the organisers.
Talking about shifting of the IBL matches to Dubai, another senior functionary of the BAI said, “India Club (in Dubai) is ready to host the matches (of Delhi) but we still have to look at the foreign exchange regulations.
“Chennai is another venue with the State Government willing to fund the event. Pune, too, has very good facilities. We have options.”