Editorial – A few more changes…

A week at the All England is always special.  There is that something unique about it. And, let’s say it, it’s the best tournament in the world. For the prestige. […]

A week at the All England is always special.  There is that something unique about it. And, let’s say it, it’s the best tournament in the world. For the prestige. For the set up. For the efficiency of the staff. But also, for the way things have improved since it’s become a Superseries Premier. The layout is just superb. The hall just fits in perfectly – on finals day, it looks like a mini Old Trafford, only more cosy. Of course, it’s not like being in Istora Senayan or Bukit Jalil, real badminton cauldrons, but the NIA can vibrate just as much – almost – for any nation. The crowd knows badminton, cheers for great badminton and not only their own compatriots. One would feel like they are in Kuala Lumpur when Chong Wei scores, and the second after, in Beijing Olympic Stadium when Lin Dan catches up or again in central Copenhagen when Peter Gade is on court. That’s quite unique in the badminton world…

Another good idea was to have a great “host”, who gets the crowd going in between matches or to warm up the hall before play starts, with brilliant ideas, like having his mobile phone number shown on the giant screen for spectators to call and the first one would get to sit in “The best seat in the house” – a comfortable couch right at the corner of the court ! The TV crew puts their cameras right in players’ faces, but that gives that extra inside feeling for TV viewers that makes it very lively. The press centre is run in a very professional and traditional way, like one would expect in a major sport – a delight for us reporters and photographers who often don’t get a similar standard in other places around the globe. The shows of very high quality before matches are a great bonus too (like listening to Suzanne Rayappan (aka “Raya”), a former England badminton player who is now a professional singer.  There are lots of good ideas which makes this event so special.

No more 3 am matches…

There was one glitch, however, this week: the first round, which ended up at 3 in the morning – forgive me, 2:54AM, to be precise, when Ratchanok Intanon finished her match against Yip Pui Yin.  A few minutes earlier, Peter Gade had been beaten by Rajiv Ouseph. What was meant to be Rajiv’s greatest victory and Peter’s last All England turned out to be played in front of a dozen of spectators at 1AM and that just sucks. Peter deserved much better, after participating in this tournament for 15 years, than being sent home in silence. The only good thing about it is that it certainly caused a major concern for everyone. Adrian Christy, Chief Executive of Badminton England, held a press conference the day after and found the right words to express the shame that Peter had to leave the tournament like this, and that this lesson was to be kept in mind for the future with ways of addressing it: anticipating more than 40 minutes per match in such high level tournaments. Bringing back the 5th court in early rounds to make the day shorter for everyone.


Amongst the ideas given by Adrian Christy, one new one caught our attention. There could be some discussions going about a new way of counting. The 3 X 21 rally point system has now –almost – everyone agree that it is better than the old 2 X 15 points system. But what about a tie-break after the second game ? This would certainly spice up the matches, if, let’s say, once both players have won a game, they have to fight for 7 or 9 points only to win the match. That would be a thrilling ending without having to wait until 21. And this would shorten the matches, hence, be more gentle on players’ bodies – something which comes up more and more often in players’ concerns. I must admit that I like the idea.

An Olympic team event?

One other thing could be changed too: create, for nations for which countries come first, a team event in the Olympics. This could be an answer to a problem that we, at Badzine, have raised numerous times: match fixing. It is clear that there is a cultural shock between values shared by countries which are looking for national pride instead of individual success, and the sport’s official ethics. Then, why don’t we bring in a new Olympic event: a Sudirman Cup with 5 categories, and a gold medal to win (instead of round robin matches for the individual events, should the time not allow it).

This would have many advantages. The first one being that the Asian nations for which the country is more important than anything, would see there an opportunity to shine as a whole. It would also allow a few other players to participate in the Olympics – which would be only fair to those who are just outside the cut and who are still amongst the best in the world, but can’t qualify for the Games – if the BWF could deal a set of extra “badminton beds” in the Olympic village. And, hopefully, this would also mean that there are no more fixed – or suspicious – matches between compatriots prior to the Olympics, just like it’s happened in the past in the All England, and just like it might have happened again on Sunday, when the clear favourites were merely beaten by their compatriots in the women’s singles and women’s doubles finals.

Opening up a team event might satisfy those who want their nation to win, and hopefully “ease up” on the team strategies in the individual events? It might not work, but it might work. And a team event in the Olympics sounds good to me, as the Sudirman Cup is one of the greatest events in the sport, and would definitely fit in well in the Olympic program – just like fencing or table-tennis for instance. The Olympics are, after all, an event where people are meant to share, bond and play together.

Anyways, this was just my ten cents after another week of great badminton. I’ll miss the atmosphere, the city, the people. And I’ll come back next year with the same pleasure.

By Raphael Sachetat, Chief Editor Badzine International
Photos: Badmintonphoto

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.