Punch Gunalan, first vice-president of Badminton World Federation (BWF), has given high marks to an Olympic badminton test event and praised China for making badminton a more popular sport.
The International Badminton Tournament, held from Oct. 10 to 14at Beijing University of Technology (BUT) Gymnasium, was among a series of test events for Beijing 2008 Olympics and the BUT Gymnasium will serve as the badminton and rhythmic gymnastics venue for the Beijing Olympics next year.
As a BWF official, Gunalan has shuttled between Olympic badminton venues since badminton was admitted to the Olympics in 1992.
"It's nearly perfect and the best venue I have ever seen, all the venues for the previous Olympics were temporarily renovated and had problems more or less, but this venue was specially designed according to the characteristics of badminton," Gunalan spoke highly of the BUT Gymnasium.
Also, Gunalan sang high praise for the organization of this tournament. "I inspected the venue three weeks before the opening of the Athens Olympics, but it was not fully ready. However, this venue in Beijing has been used one year before the opening of the Olympics and it's really the first time," he said.
Gunalan stressed that the badminton's steady position in the Olympics was attributed to the efforts made by China.
"Our thanks go to China, which has helped badminton become a more popular sport. Now the Badminton Training Center has been established in Guangzhou (in South China) and we hope Beijing can have one too in the future," he said.
Though it is said that the badminton might be excluded from the2016 Olympics, Gunalan firmly refuted this rumor.
"Badminton will be in the 2012 London Olympics for sure and it will be the same in the 2016 Olympics," he said.
"We don't need to worry about it as the badminton is one of the top 12 sports in the world. At least, we have never heard this information from the International Olympic Committee and they have never put it onto the agenda."
As the Beijing tournament wasn't an Olympic qualifying event, many overseas players opted out at the last minute, leaving NguyenTien Minh from Vietnam the only non-Chinese on the court.
"It will not affect the test purpose of the tournament," Gunalan said.