SHANGHAI: China will host its first international badminton tournament since 2019 with the season-ending World Tour Finals in December, the sport’s governing body has said.

The Badminton World Federation cancelled two planned events in China but said its flagship $1.5 million Finals would take place in Guangzhou on December 14-18.

China has cancelled almost all international sports competitions since Covid emerged there in 2019, with the Beijing Winter Olympics in February this year a rare exception.

Those were held in a strict “closed loop” to thwart the coronavirus and the BWF did not immediately say if the Guangzhou Finals would also take place in a “bubble”.

The table tennis world team championships began on Friday in the Chinese city of Chengdu in a “closed loop”, all part of the country’s strict “zero-Covid” policy.

December’s World Tour Finals will include the top eight players and pairs in each category for their share of what the BWF called “the biggest prize pool ever seen in badminton”.

BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund said the finals were one of the body’s most lucrative tournaments and thanked the Chinese government for extending the invitation.

“We remain confident that our hosts will deliver a spectacular Finals event with the highest standard of player safety and comfort,” said Lund.

“Unfortunately, it was not possible to move forward with plans to stage the two tournaments in Changzhou and Fuzhou, he added, without further explanation.

The southern city of Guangzhou also held the Finals in 2018 and 2019.

November’s Hong Kong Open had already been cancelled for the third straight year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and complex quarantine measures.

The World Tour Finals were relocated in 2020 and 2021 due to Chinese Covid restrictions.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2022

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