Noura Al Jasmi, Jassem Kanso, Abdulaziz Al-Hussan and other dignitaries at the press conference.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Dubai is set to witness the creme de la of badminton including Olympic and world champions in action when it stages the KhiladiX.com 2023 Badminton Asia Championships at the Rashid Bin Hamdan Hall in Al Nasr Club.
The event will begin on Tuesday with the finals taking place on April 30.
This will be the second championship Dubai will host after the successful staging of the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships in February.
The championships, held under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Honorary President of the UAE Badminton Federation, will witness around 300 players from 28 nations fighting for the continental crowns apart from the highest BWF world ranking points.
There will be 32 players (or pairings) in each main draw with 28 already placed and four coming from the qualifiers due to take place on the opening day.
While defending champions Lee Zii Jia from Malaysia (seeded 3) and China’s Wang Zhiyi (seeded 6) will be aiming to keep their titles, there will be top shuttlers from Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and India among others who are expected to pose a strong challenge.
Among the other top names include top seed and last year’s beaten finalist Jonathan Christie (top seed) and Anthony Ginting (second seed) from Indonesia in men’s singles while Japanese world no. 1 Akane Yamaguchi, top seed and last year’s beaten finalist and Korean An Se Young (second seed).
Besides Wang, China will also have Olympic champion Chen Yufei, the third seed, in their women’s singles line-up.
India will have their best players with two-time Olympic medallist P.V. Sindhu and H.S. Prannoy, both seeded eighth, to lead the challenge.
Malvika Bansod and Aakarshi Kashyap are the other Indian players in the fray in the women’s singles category in the event.
Speaking at the pre-tournament conference held at the General Authority of Sports, Abdulaziz Al-Hussan, Director of the Competitive Sports Department at the General Sports Authority, extended his best wishes to the players and visiting teams, besides the UAE national players.
Jassem Kanso, Continental Representative as Vice President in BWF and Treasurer of Badminton Asia said: “We are very excited ahead of this prestigious meet which will have the world’s best shuttlers. It was a big challenge for Badminton Asia and UAE Badminton Federation to host this event with all the best of arrangements. And we are very thankful to the federation for their hard work and dedication to deliver the Asian badminton fraternity with this event.”
Jassem also stressed that hosting the Championship in the UAE makes it a “unique event in the Arab world”, which will push towards the development and prosperity of badminton in the GCC region.
The first round starts on Wednesday with some of these big names starting their campaigns, while UAE players led by Bharath Latheesh begin with the qualifiers on the opening day.
Latheesh, fresh from his title wins at international junior events – Uganda Open and Spanish Open — will lead the home challenge which also comprises Emirati players Mohammad Falamarzi, Ghadeer Ali Altahri, who are all excited to make their international debuts, in the 16-member UAE team.
“This is an amazing opportunity against the best players in the world. My target is to give my best at this championship. I got a lot of confidence from my campaign at the last two international junior events, besides my match against Lee Zii Jia at the Mixed Team Championships. And I want to build on that confidence going ahead and focus on my game,” said Latheesh.
Noura Al Jasmi, UAE Badminton Federation President, said: “This is a proud moment for us to host the prestigious Badminton Asia Championships in the UAE. After the success of the Mixed Team event, I am confident that this event is going to open doors to many Arab countries to compete at an international level.
“Our young players are quite excited and are eagerly looking forward to being part of the championships. To play alongside the world’s best players will be a big learning experience for them, something that will help them improve their game. I wish all the very best to UAE players and all the visiting shuttlers at the championships.”
She also acknowledged the support of the sponsors KhiladiX.com, the title sponsors, and Shobha Realty, the platinum sponsors, besides the strategic partners — the General Authority of Sport, Dubai Sports Council, Beyond Boundaries Sports Services, Al Nasr Club, The French School, Sheikh Manaa Bin Hasher Almaktoum Medical Center for their continuous support.