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World Badminton: BWF Presidential race heats up

The race for the post of President of Badminton World Federation became tighter, with one of the three candidates opting out of the contest.

Following a strange turn of events last week, when presidential candidate Nadzmi Salleh of Malaysia suddenly found himself elected president of the Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC), Salleh decided against running for the BWF President’s post. Salleh, who was apparently taken by surprise to find himself heading the BAC after the reigning president Katsuto Momii of Japan was ousted through a no-confidence motion, was prevailed upon by the other Asian contender, Justian Suhandinata of Indonesia, to opt out in the interest of Asia.

There were initially three candidates for the BWF President’s post: Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen of Denmark, Nadzmi Salleh of Malaysia and Justian Suhandinata of Indonesia. With two Asian candidates likely to split the votes, the advantage appeared to have gone Hoyer-Larsen’s way.

Last week saw a dramatic turn of events, with the chief of the Asian body, Katsuto Momii, suddenly voted out of office through an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). BAC members accused Momii of not backing the Asian candidates. However, these developments turned out to be controversial, with Japan’s badminton association approaching a court in Kuala Lumpur. The general secretary of Nippon Badminton Association claimed the right protocol for the no-confidence motion wasn’t followed, as members were notified only “ten days” prior to the vote, and not “60 days”, as rules required. According to reports, only 12 of the 41 affiliates attended the EGM in Bangkok. The court case will be on April 11.

Salleh initially appeared taken aback by his sudden elevation to BAC’s top post, stating that his campaign for BWF president would continue unabated. However, his resolve changed on Monday, when the other contender, Justian Suhandinata, visited his home in Malaysia and prevailed upon him to change his stance. “What is important is Asian unity,” Salleh told the press. “If we have two candidates from Asia, there will be a split in votes. I thought about this and consulted the parties concerned. After taking into consideration all these factors, I have decided to withdraw from the BWF election. In view of Asian solidarity, I believe those who support me will also support Justian. He also has the support of affiliates from outside Asia. Of course, there is a lot to be done in BAC and I do not want to assume anything as I’ve just accepted the offer to be its president. I need to focus on it. We need to speed up the process to get BAC in good working order. The annual general meeting (AGM) on April 21 in Taiwan will help me get things done more effectively as this is what the members want to see.”

Justian Suhandinata hoped that Asia’s on-court dominance would translate into him being voted as BWF President. “I thank Nadzmi and hopefully, this cooperation will unite everyone ahead of the elections,” he was quoted as saying by New Straits Times. “If I become president, I will strive to focus on developing the sport and also make sure it remains in the Olympics. Yes, I do have the support of affiliates outside Asia, notably from Africa, Oceania, America and some countries from Europe. I believe the BWF president should be an Asian as we are dominating the international scene and furthermore 80 per cent of the sponsors come from this continent.”

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