KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has called on Badminton World Federation (BWF) and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to consider Sarawak as hosts for international badminton tournaments.
He said Sarawak now has world standard sporting venues and facilities especially here in Kuching.
“It is our sincere hope that the BWF and BAM will continue to support Sarawak’s bid to host more international badminton championships in the near future,” he said when officiating the 26th World Masters Badminton Championship (WMBC) welcoming dinner at a leading hotel here on Friday night.
According to Abang Johari, a multi-purpose venue was specially built for this event by transforming the lawn bowls arena at Sarawak Sports Complex into 20 badminton courts.
He added this multi-purpose venue would be ideal to host multi sports events in the future.
“It is indeed an honour for Sarawak to be given the opportunity to host this 26th WMBC which has attracted almost 2,000 participants from 20 countries.
“Hosting an international sporting event requires months of preparation and thorough planning before implementation which is the milestone for Kuching to be given the recognition to host this 26th edition of the WMBC,” he said.
The Chief Minister also said the Sarawak government is most grateful to the World Chinese Badminton Federation for their tremendous commitment to
hold the championship in Kuching.
“For us in Sarawak, I sincerely hope that the hosting of this international badminton event will help to boost further the interest and the development of badminton sports in Sarawak amongst our young players.
“This is also an occasion for our local badminton enthusiasts from all over Sarawak to have the opportunity to witness former world class players like Taufik Hidayat, Tan Boon Keong, Koo Kean Keat, Bobby Ertanto once again in action in Kuching,” he said.
Wishing the players very best of luck during the tournament, he hoped that they will have a pleasant memory of this championship while enjoying their short stay in the capital city and return as tourists in the near future.
The tournament started on Oct 31 and ends on Nov 3.
It is also the first WMBC to be held outside China.
It has been reported in the media that transforming the lawn bowls arena into a multipurpose stadium with 20 badminton courts and another 10 in Sarawak Indoor Stadium had involved a cost of about RM3 million.
These courts built according to BWF specifications are to be used to conduct 2,926 matches over the four days.
Malaysia are fielding the biggest number of 780 players followed by China with 645 and Chinese Taipei with 135.
Other participating countries include Indonesia (85 players), Hong Kong (50), Singapore (45), Australia (32), Thailand (26), Brunei (23), Japan (8), South Korea (9), USA (6), Canada (5), New Zealand (5) Sri Lanka (4), United Kingdom (3), Macau (3), Germany (1) and South Africa (1).
The categories to be contested are Combined Ages, Over 60 years old, 45-55 years old, 25-40 years old, Open and VIP.
Taiwan’s Liao Guo Fung and China’s Liu Hun De, both 89, are the oldest players for this tournament and they were honoured with souvenirs at the dinner.