Seoul High Court clears former World Champions to play BWF events

Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol have won an injunction to force the Badminton Korea Association (BKA) to lift its age limit on registering independent players for international tournaments. […]

and Shin Baek Cheol have won an injunction to force the (BKA) to lift its age limit on registering independent players for international tournaments.

After a year in the courts, 2014 men’s doubles World Champions Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol (pictured) should finally be clear to compete independent of the national team.  According to a report yesterday in the Donga Ilbo, Ko and Shin won an appeal on May 25th, in which the Seoul High Court ruled that, pending a final decision, the BKA must suspend its rule stipulating that male players outside the national team cannot be entered in international events until they are over age 31.

Ko Sung Hyun had the most to lose from this rule as he did not retire through channels last year after leaving the Korean national team but his top 10 ranking at the time meant that the rules triggered US$5,000 fines every time the BKA refused to grant his request to enter Superseries Premier events.  However, as he turned 31 on May 21st, it appears that he will benefit little from the ruling, apart from the BKA being directed to reimburse his court costs.  In addition, his 2014 World Championship partner Shin Baek Cheol, with whom he has continued to compete in domestic events as they are both members of the Gimcheon City Hall Badminton Team, will now be clear to enter ranking tournaments with Ko, even though Shin is still only 28.

Other benificiaries of the ruling could include former world #1 Lee Yong Dae, 29, and former world #2 Kim Sa Rang, 28, and Kim Gi Jung, 27.  In fact, the Donga Ilbo article revealed that it was only after these players left the national team in late 2016 and early 2017 that the BKA changed its age limit from 27 to 29 for women and 31 for men.  Men and women under that age, will be entered in international events by the BKA only if they are members of the national team.  A 6th player, Yoo Yeon Seong, began competing as an independent player with international partners late last year, immediately after his 31st birthday.  BWF rules, of course, do not allow players to enter tournaments directly, but force them to prevail upon the whims of their national association to do it for them.

For players like Ko and Shin with no ranking, low level tournaments such as the upcoming international challenges in Russia and Nigeria are a possibility but with Super 500 events in Thailand and Singapore happening so close to the , there is a chance that unranked players could make it onto the qualifying lists there as well.

Photo: Don Hearn

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @