Tue, Nov 27, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Badminton's big names out in force for HK tournament

AFP , HONG KONG

Badminton's new-look Super Series comes to an early halt this week after an eventful first season hit by political intrigue, cheating claims and the cancelation of next month's grand final.

The sport's biggest names will be out in force for the Hong Kong Open hoping to provide a final flourish for the 11-tournament series created to boost popularity.

The entire male and female top-10s are confirmed for the event with leading men Lin Dan of China and Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei seeking their fourth and fifth Super victories respectively.

The Super Series is winding up three weeks early after organizers in Dubai called off the showpiece US$500,000 Masters Final, the sport's richest ever event, due to a lack of sponsorship.

An alternative venue in Malaysia was ruled out because the Dec. 18-Dec. 23 dates clash with a religious festival there.

A whiff of scandal surrounded last weekend's China Open with Malaysia's Lee protesting to the tournament referee after several line-calls went against him during the final with home favorite Bao Chunlai.

"Chong Wei had at least four clear decisions go against him. Our doubles players also suffered the same fate in earlier rounds and this is cause for concern," Malaysia's chief coach Yap Kim Hock told the New Straits Times.

The BWF has endured a rocky year with a schism in the governing body prompting its president to warn that badminton's Olympic status was under threat.

Chief operating officer P. Ganga Rao was suspended in June and then a vote of no-confidence was passed against the president, Kang Young Joong, in August

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