Principal Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Hyderabad will host India’s biggest ever badminton event when the Yonex-Sunrise India Open championship featuring 200 players from 12 countries will be held at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here from March 24 to 29, according to V.K. Verma, president of Badminton Association of India.

Verma informed the media here on Friday that some of the big names who had confirmed their participation included World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and former Olympic and World champion Taufik Hidayat in the men’s section and World No. 4 Pi Hongyan of France in women’s singles.

India will field a 30-member contingent with Chetan Anand and Arvind Bhat leading the challenge in men’s section and World No. 10 Saina Nehwal in women’s singles. “By virtue of being the host, we have the advantage of fielding more than 30 players in the qualifying rounds, which should give some young players a good exposure in an event of this magnitude,” Verma said.

“We are optimistic that the Badminton World Federation will soon elevate this $1,20,000 championship to the status of Super Series. It won’t be a problem to meet one of the important criteria — to increase the prize money to $2 lakh. Having hosted the India Open last year, we are now looking at this mega event as a curtain-raiser for the World championship to be held in August in Hyderabad,” he said.

Expressing satisfaction

Mr. Stuart Borrie, secretary-general of BWF, who headed a delegation which inspected the competition and practice venues (Gopi Chand Academy), besides the boarding and lodging facilities and transportation, expressed complete satisfaction on this front. “We have called in security expert John Ahlert to review the security aspect,” Mr. Borrie said.

Pullela Gopi Chand, tournament director, said that by staging the India Open, the sport should get a big fillip across the country.

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