SUZHOU, China, May 22 (Xinhua) -- In an interview with Xinhua at the 2023 Sudirman Cup, which concluded on Sunday, Poul-Erik Hoyer, president of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), expressed his confidence in the global popularity of badminton.
China clinched victory at the 2023 Sudirman Cup, sweeping South Korea 3-0 in the final. With this triumph, the host nation has now won the title three consecutive times and has celebrated 13 championships in the last 18 iterations.
Although badminton has its origins in Europe, Asian players have dominated the sport for many years. There have been few podium regulars from countries or regions outside Asia, raising questions about the sport's worldwide popularity.
"The global popularity of badminton is fantastic," Hoyer stated, citing Europe as an example. "Badminton ranks among the top sports in Denmark, and in France, the sport's popularity is growing, showing a continual increase in participation. Additionally, the youth activity in Italian schools places it among the top 10 school sports."
European players at the Sudirman Cup supported Hoyer's perspective. Leonice Huet, French women's singles player, suggested, "Badminton is the primary sport in France, as many people play it, albeit not at a high level."
Ben Lane and Sean Vendy, England's men's doubles team, mentioned that badminton is the second most popular sport in England in terms of participation. "Over one million people play more than once a week in England because it's straightforward to step onto the court, and many people enjoy it."
Post-Olympic Games, International Federations receive funding from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), distributed according to the size of the sport and its audience. Hoyer noted that badminton is currently at level C in the IOC allocation rules, with the BWF striving for a level B status.
"We firmly believe that badminton is climbing the ranks, showing a great spirit and achieving fantastic results," he stated.
In the quarterfinals of the 2023 Sudirman Cup, Denmark was the only European team, with the remaining seven teams hailing from Asia. Hoyer, a 57-year-old former Olympic badminton gold medalist from Denmark, noted that while Denmark may currently seem like the sole team capable of facing Asian teams, French badminton is also rapidly developing in preparation for Paris 2024.
"I believe France has demonstrated a great deal of strength over the past few years. The best French players are winning at European junior championships and slowly closing the gap to Denmark. As they close the gap to Denmark, they also prove that they can compete with some of the Asian teams," said Hoyer.
Three years after hosting a significant event, China gave a grand welcome to the world's best teams at the Sudirman Cup. The BWF's official website described it as being "back in the badminton heartland."
"Badminton is very engaging for spectators and garners a considerable youth audience. Chinese televisions are supporting us with extensive coverage. I believe we are here in China due to the sport's interest, and that's why we refer to it as the heartland," Hoyer concluded.