The BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals was launched in grand style today with the announcement of a USD$1 million prize purse to be shared by the year’s top players.
Officials gathered in the desert metropolis to start the countdown to the World Superseries season-ender which takes place 17-21 December at Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai. Just four tournaments remain on the 12-stop MetLife BWF World Superseries calendar for 2014 before the highest-ranked competitors qualify for the finale.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the World Superseries Finals will be staged in Dubai each December until 2017 as part of a four-year partnership between the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and the Dubai Sports Council.
Addressing a press conference, BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund (right) revealed the doubling of prize money for the prestigious year-end showdown featuring the eight top-ranked players in Men’s and Women’s Singles as well as their equivalents in all three doubles disciplines on the Destination Dubai Superseries Rankings.
“I am pleased to announce today that we are taking another significant step in badminton’s development by offering the biggest prize-money jackpot in the sport of USD$1 million – with singles winners receiving USD$80,000 each and winning doubles pairs earning USD$84,000 each,” he said.
In addition, it was announced that tickets (available at www.ticketmaster.ae) will be priced from 20Dhs and sporting brand Yonex will be the tournament’s official equipment supplier. A countdown clock was switched on to herald the launch – with now less than 100 days to go until the world’s badminton elite arrive in Dubai.
“Badminton is an exciting, fast-paced game and there are no better ambassadors to promote the sport around the world than its top players,” added Lund.
“The partnership with Dubai represents a key opportunity for us to gain exposure for the increasingly-popular MetLife World Superseries in a growing market and align ourselves with Dubai, whose global connectivity, accessibility and track record in hosting world-class sporting events will make badminton accessible to more fans around the world.”
Dubai’s partnership with the BWF has also seen the BWF’s grassroots programme “Shuttle Time” brought to the city. Operating in 71 countries, Shuttle Time encourages people from all walks of life to take up badminton.
Shuttle Time Dubai was launched in July and will see teachers in 40 schools trained in how to coach badminton to more than 3,000 students aged eight to 16. The schools will also be supplied with equipment, suggested lesson plans and interactive learning material.
“Badminton is a sport that is open to everyone and there is already an active scene in Dubai,” said Dr Ahmad Al Sharif, Secretary-General of Dubai Sports Council.
“That makes it an ideal vehicle for us to promote grassroots development throughout our communities. The partnership with the BWF, which was facilitated by Falcon and Associates, provides us with an exciting opportunity to build on that interest, to promote the sport to new levels and to develop grassroots initiatives such as Shuttle Time Dubai that will help to drive community engagement and physical activity across the city.
“The BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals gives spectators the opportunity to watch elite athletes competing for one of the biggest purses in the game. We encourage badminton followers, as well as anyone who simply enjoys seeing world-class sport, to purchase tickets and watch the tournament.”
Also in attendance was former world No. 1 Men’s Singles player, Peter Gade, who said he has spoken to various current players who are “excited to come here for the Finals”. The Dane is hoping for “some drama” in the Dubai showdown, noting that’s what fans like to see in badminton.
Leading the charge to Dubai in the men’s singles category is defending Superseries Finals title-holder, Lee Chong Wei, the 2014 Li-Ning BWF World Championship silver medalist. He enjoys a significant buffer zone of more than 18,560 ranking points between him and nearest challenger, reigning World champion, Chen Long of China.
The fight for top spot in Women’s Singles is much closer with just 6,060 points separating China’s two top-ranked players, 2012 Olympic champion, Li Xuerui and former world No. 1, Wang Shixian.
Starting with the Yonex Denmark Open next month, the world’s most accomplished players will continue trying to boost their rankings in the remaining World Superseries tournaments. The other three events will be held in France, China and Hong Kong, in that order.
CAPTION (above, from left): BWF Secretary General, Thomas Lund; Dr Ahmad Saad Al Sharif, Secretary General, Dubai Sports Council; Peter Gade of Denmark, former world No.1 player, participated in today’s press conference and the unveiling of a countdown clock.
Text by Gayle Alleyne | BWF