Officials have expressed their disappointment after Hong Kong’s top badminton event lost its status as one of the leading events on the global calendar, with a total prize pool of just US$350,000 only enough to secure level four status on the new world tour structure from 2018. The Hong Kong Open has been one of the top tier superseries events for many years, but has fallen down the pecking order after the Badminton World Federation unveiled a new tournament structure earlier this week. The series, which starts next year and runs until 2021, features six levels and is headlined by the US$1.5m season finale which is the only level one event. “We were disappointed Hong Kong cannot make it to the top three levels under the new format as we have been a very popular stop among the top shuttlers as we are also willing to improve the prize money massively,” said Hong Kong Badminton Association chairman Tong Wai-lun. “We did ask for an upgrade, but in the end it was the decision of the world governing body. “But we won’t reckon there will be any loss of our attraction to the stars. As far as we understand, Hong Kong and the China Open, which will become one of the three US$1m tournaments, will still be held back to back in the future, and coupled with the easy accessibility of the city and many other favourable conditions, the Hong Kong Open will remain a top class competition for the players.” Angus Ng Ka-long wins Hong Kong Open – first home champion in the tournament’s 34-year history China, England and Indonesia make up the three US$1m level two events, with five events offering US$700,000 prize money making up level three. Hong Kong is amongst seven level four events, with 11 tournament offering US$150,000 in the fifth tier. Tong, however, remained upbeat Hong Kong would be able to upgrade the tournament in future, especially with the completion of the new indoor venue at Kai Tak set for 2022. “We can accommodate 10,000 fans in the new modernised venue which will be another great attraction to the players and the world body, and more importantly we always have many zealous fans who are willing to pay and watch the star players,” he said. Hong Kong Open organisers confident of being able to stump up the cash to remain an elite event on world badminton circuit Currently, the Hong Kong Coliseum can only hold a maximum 6,500 fans for the Hong Kong Open as part of the venue has to be closed to spectators for the use as players’ warm-up area despite having a maximum capacity of 12,000.