SBA chief: Change in status won't affect Singapore Open
Some 30,000 fans came to the Indoor Stadium the past week to catch the likes of women's singles world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying and Olympic champion Carolina Marin in action at the OUE Singapore Open.
While the US$350,000 (S$489,000) event remains a SuperSeries tournament on Badminton World Federation's (BWF) calendar for the next four years, it will be a fourth-tier competition from next year.
Presently, the SuperSeries and the Superseries Premier events form the second-highest tier of competitions on the BWF calendar, just behind the Olympics and the World Championships.
Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) president Tan Kian Chew is confident that the Singapore Open will continue to pull in the crowds, despite the change in status.
"Tier four is not necessarily bad because the world's top 10 players have to play in four of the seven tier-four SuperSeries events each season," he said yesterday.
"We can be assured that some of the top players will continue to play in Singapore because Singapore has been seen as one of the better venues, and we are very well-organised."
Real estate company OUE's title sponsorship of the Singapore Open ends with this year's tournament, and SBA secretary general Michael Foo said they are looking for new sponsors.
Foo said: "One model that we might consider is doing away with one title sponsor, and have multiple sponsors instead, so that the burden is not borne by just one. We are open to exploring all models."
He revealed that the Singapore Sports Hub will continue to be the tournament's venue partner in the next four years.
While the SBA has previously considered bidding for the more prestigious SuperSeries Premier status, which comes with a bigger prize purse, Tan said their decision is a financially prudent one.
Tan said: "Tier four, we can bear (the costs) without a title sponsor, but I won't rule out (a future SuperSeries Premier bid) if we can get early commitment from a title sponsor.
"If we are keen, the groundwork has to be laid one or two years before any bid."
Tan also challenged local shuttlers to reach the world's top 20 in "one or two years" and the top 10 by Tokyo 2020.
The mixed doubles pair of Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han, who are ranked 16th, are currently Singapore's highest-ranked shuttlers.
SBA chief Tan said: "We are going to give them more exposure and send them overseas for training, with Thailand, Indonesia and China some of the potential venues.
"For our doubles players, you can see how they have performed recently. I am very happy with the improvements they have made and we are on the right track."