Korea goes back to Yonex after 10 years

The BKA signed a 4-year contract with Yonex today in Seoul, ending a period of uncertainty as Korea’s national badminton team was without an official equipment sponsor for over a […]

The BKA signed a 4-year contract with Yonex today in Seoul, ending a period of uncertainty as Korea’s national badminton team was without an official equipment for over a month.

Story and photos by Don Hearn (live in Seoul)

The (BKA) today held a signing ceremony with Yonex for full sponsorship of the Korean national badminton team.  Yonex President Kusaki Hayashida was on hand to sign for the Japanese company, whose relationship with the team stretches back for decades before the BKA signed with Victor in 2009.

Korean badminton seemed to be in turmoil a few months ago when the coaching staff was fired in its entirety, and their former equipment sponsor rescinded their 4-year sponsorship contract after only two years.  Today, though, things looked to be much almost back to normal.  The new Head Coach Ahn Jae Chang was in attendance, along with three of the new additions to his coaching staff and a large contingent of the national team players.

“We consider Korea to be one of the top badminton nations and we are committed to improving the competitiveness of the Korean team for the future,” said Yonex President Hayashida in a speech before the signing.

After the signing and photos, the press had several questions for BKA President Park Ki Hyun, for Head Coach Ahn Jae Chang, and for the presidents of Yonex and its Korean subsidiary.

“The disappointing results last year were among many challenges faced by the BKA and the national team players last year and another was the premature cancellation of our last sponsorship contract, two years into the four-year contract,” said BKA President Park Ki Hyun.

“It has been customary for the BKA to make 4-year sponsorship contracts, basically on each Olympic cycle but with this one rescinded early, it is obviously a break in that pattern.  We realized that things might be different again two years into this contract, once the Olympics are over but the BKA and Yonex still thought we’d go ahead and make it for four years.”

“As to the chances of rescinding prematurely, the probability is not even 0.01%,” said Kim Chul Woong, President of Yonex’s Korean subsidiary Dong Seung Trading.  “Yonex honours its commitments and so there is nothing to worry about.  We hope that the national team results keep getting better and that the cooperation with Yonex continues.”

BKA President Park was asked by an SBS reporter to comment on what other support would be given to the national team players from now until the Olympic Games.  SBS TV had run a spot in November critical of the BKA for its expenditures on business class tickets for its executives to attend the World Championships while the former Head Coach complained he was not given the funding for sufficient support staff to travel overseas with the team.  Park expressed the Association’s intent to support the team, including providing trainers and sports psychologists to travel with the team, if their budget allows.

Kim Chul Woong pointed out that with Lee Yong Dae currently a member of the Yonex pro team in Korea, the company is still hopeful that he will return to the national team.  Lee was one of six doubles players who left the national team between May 2016 and May 2017 and all six have since resumed playing as independent players, half of them sponsored by Yonex.

Head Coach Ahn clarified that Lee and the other ‘retired’ players could not be selected for the national team for 2019 – as they were committed to Premier Badminton League during the tryouts – but that if their training and competing as independents allows them to improve their ranking sufficiently, they could rejoin the national team next winter, in advance of the Tokyo Olympics.

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 @ badzine.net