BWF expects new faces, new format at London Olympics

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is expecting new faces to challenge traditional powerhouses and new group stage format to shine at the coming London Olympic Games badminton competition starting in less than two weeks.

At the Beijing Olympic Games, all of the medals were won by four Asian teams - China, Indonesia, South Korea and Malaysia - but in the past four years, Japan, Chinese Taipei and other teams have enjoyed a fast development and have more players qualified for the London Games.

"Since the Beijing Games, various teams have improved significantly to the extent that we saw more teams contesting the semi-finals and finals of last year's world championships in London (which coincidentally was the Olympic Test tournament)," said BWF vice president Paisan Rangsikitpho in an interview to Xinhua.

"We are very encouraged by the positive strides we have made in badminton with new teams breaking into the top of the ranking lists."

However, Paisan believed the development of players to be among badminton's world elite takes long-term vision and effort and the traditional powerhouses will always be among those vying for medals.

"Ultimately, athletes must prove themselves on the court and may the best player win. If only a few countries share the medals at the London Olympics, then so be it," he said.

Different from previous Olympic badminton competition, the London Games will also witness the debut of a new format, to be played on two stages - group play and knock out stages.

BWF established the new format where men's and women's singles players will be divided into 16 groups. Players will play in a round-robin format in the group stage while first-place finishers from each group qualify for the knock out stage.

For the pairs events, players in men's, women's and mixed doubles will be divided into four groups respectively, with a maximum of four pairs in each group, while top two pairs from each group qualify for the knock out stage.

"The group stage is new and we are sure this will enhance the drama and excitement as each group builds to a climax," Paisan said.

The Olympic badminton competitions take place from July 28 to Aug 5 at Wembley Arena in north-west London.

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