(Sydney, Monday June 6, 2016) Today Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia), Tan Boon Heong (Malaysia), Koo Kien Keat (Malaysia), and Gronya Somerville (Australia) joined the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, and Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres on Sydney Harbour to officially launch the 2016 XIAMENAIR Australian Badminton Open, with competition kicking off at Homebush tomorrow, Tuesday June 7, 2016.
The players enjoyed a harbourside warm up on the pop up badminton court, with the beautiful Sydney Harbour Bridge as a backdrop.
NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres said, “It’s great to have the world’s best badminton players on our shores this week for the XIAMENAIR Australian Badminton Open. This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever, showcasing our beautiful Harbour City to badminton fans around the world. I wish all the players the best of luck, and look forward to a week of intense competition at Sydney Olympic Park.”
This week Sydney will host 340 players from 30 different countries as they compete in the tournament at Sydney’s Olympic Park, Homebush.
With the Olympics just around the corner, the XIAMENAIR Australian Badminton Open gives Rio bound players one last chance to battle it out for the all-important ranking points, as well as vying for a share of the event’s lucrative US$750,000 prize pool.
“The excitement of players and their teams as they arrive in Sydney is palpable. We’re on the eve of competition kicking off and the vibe amongst the teams is incredible. Sydney is one of the favourite destinations globally on the BWF Superseries Calendar. The weather and sites they experience while here, as well as the calibre of the tournament, ensures we attract the world’s best players. Tomorrow night they will take in the lights of the Vivid Sydney Festival on a harbour cruise which will be a unique experience for them, and something they will share with their millions of social media followers globally,” adds Badminton Australia Board member and Tournament Director Loke Poh Wong.
Returning to Sydney this year include current Women’s World No. 2 Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) plus two-time Olympic champion and five-time world champion Lin Dan (China) and World No. 2 Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia). The competition is set to be fierce between the two players coming a mere few weeks after Lee Chong Wei beat Lin Dan at the 2016 Badminton Asia Championships.
Also coming to defend their titles include defending women’s singles champion and World No. 1 Carolina Marin (Spain), World No. 1 Women’s Doubles Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi (Japan) and current Men’s Doubles World Champions Hendra Setiawanand Mohammad Ahsan (Indonesia).
One of the most popular badminton stars in the world with five million followers on social media, Saina Nehwal (India) is joining the high calibre event after dominating the 2014 Australian Badminton Open. She is also currently World No. 8 and a 2015 World Championship silver medallist.
The XIAMENAIR Australian Badminton Open will once again be supporting the BWF Shuttletime programme, giving children throughout the world access to the sport. As the only Superseries events in the Oceania region, the tournament players will be donating their old racquets, equipment, and clothing to countries such as Tonga, Kiribati and Fiji.
Organisers will be encouraging fans and spectators to do the same by bringing their old badminton equipment to the event, which will go to players in less fortunate parts of the world.