The Hong Kong Open will retain its status as a Super Series event for another four years, the World Badminton Federation (WBF) has confirmed.
"They are very impressed with our organisation and most of all the strong crowds that attended the final stages," Hong Kong Badminton Association chairman Tong Wai-lun, who returned with the good news after attending the WBF congress in Bangkok last week, said yesterday.
"We have advantages over other cities who wanted to host a Super Series event, such as the prize money on offer and the excellent standard of our judges and linesmen," Tong said. "The Hong Kong Open is also one of the most popular Super Series events among the players."
Under the 2014-17 rules, the world body will stick with 12 Super Series events a year. Five will be Premier Super Series events: the China Open, All England Open, Indonesia Open, Denmark Open and Malaysia Open. The remaining seven, including the Hong Kong Open, will be called World Super Series tournaments.
"The minimum prize money required for a World Super Series event is US$300,000 and we have promised to raise our prize money to US$350,000," Tong said. "While money is a crucial factor, our strong attendance of over 5,000 in the last two days of the tournament this year is very impressive, compared to other Super Series events. The atmosphere is very good. This, alone, has given us extra credit."
The China Open, held the week before Hong Kong, attracted only a few hundred people to the final. China has two Super Series events for the 2011-2013 period, but one will be dropped for 2014-17, to be replaced by the Australia Open.
"The competition was very keen as other nations such as Taiwan and Switzerland were also keen to step in," Tong said.
Despite the hefty prize money being offered, Tong was confident that the Hong Kong Open was a viable venture. "We have a reliable title sponsor [Yonex-Sunrise] and also the support of many secondary sponsors. There should not be any problem on the financial side," he said.
Hong Kong coach Tim He Yiming was pleased to see the Hong Kong Open retain its status. "The top players will be required to come to Hong Kong, because it is a Super Series event. This will not only benefit the fans but also our players, who have the chance of competing against the best in their home city," He said.
Meanwhile, Hu Yun (men's singles) and the women's doubles pair of Poon Lok-yan and Tse Ying-suet have qualified for the Super Series finals in Shenzhen next week. The top eight singles players and doubles pairs in all five categories after 12 Super Series events will compete for total prize money of US$500,000.