In keeping up with sport’s ever-evolving, multi-dimensional landscape, the Badminton World Federation will be exploring “exciting and innovative” prospects to transform badminton into an outdoor/beach sport as well as an e-gaming hot property.
These decisions, endorsed by the world-governing body at its recent Council meeting in Kunshan, China, will see BWF engaging with various stakeholders to propel badminton in these directions, thereby reaching out to new populations of sport fans.
Noting both outdoor/beach sports and e-gaming have exploded in recent years as massive industries involving sizeable resources – human, financial and otherwise – BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer stressed “badminton must be a part of these worlds in which there is huge potential for our sport to succeed”.
The BWF, he said, will soon be considering formats for outdoor badminton, as well as for beach badminton specifically, with the appropriate courts, regulations and equipment. Presently, the world-governing body is considering how its regulations may be adapted and will collaborate with some of the first beach tournaments in which badminton will be tested and played later this year such as the Asian Beach Games and Russia’s National Beach Games.
“The feedback from such events will certainly help as we look to develop this genre of badminton. There are legions of athletes and fans who are into outdoor sport – some beach sport particularly – and it’s an area that’s very attractive commercially,” stated Høyer.
“We have seen the emergence of the Beach Soccer World Cup, the Beach Volleyball World Championships and other outdoor or beach formats of various sports. In terms of expanding badminton both professionally and recreationally, we have so much to gain from penetrating this sphere.
“It would be great to see badminton being played competitively on beaches, on streets, in parks and other open spaces – but there are a lot of technical aspects we have to get right, especially with the shuttle. We have to look at these things first but we are committed to taking badminton outdoors.”
Høyer also highlighted e-gaming as another market “that we owe it to our sport to tap into so we can further engage with our many badminton fans”. While BWF has not yet determined the focus of its e-gaming activities, he noted, the BWF Council’s decision is an important step in embracing e-gaming as an opportunity to develop badminton in a unique manner.
“We must keep pace with developments in sport which continue to grow far beyond our traditional sporting environments. The internet and social media have challenged our imagination with regards to sport and the e-gaming evolution is constantly rewriting the possibilities of what can be done with and through sport,” he said, citing plans for an eGames – the e-gaming version of the Olympics – to be held in Brazil during Rio 2016.
“E-gaming is a multi-billion-dollar industry which is run professionally and in which some top players are millionaires. There are big tournaments with attractive prize money and thousands of fans engrossed in the action. We believe a fast-paced, dynamic sport like badminton can flourish in this marketplace.”