20 March 17 The Straits Times by MAY CHEN
Despite some tentative uncertainty over the future of the Singapore Open, the world's top badminton players will continue to compete here for at least another four more years.
The Republic was one of the stops named yesterday on the Badminton World Federation (BWF)'s professional circuit for the cycle starting next year until 2021.
The sport's world governing body also announced a new tournament structure. From next year, the Singapore leg will be classified as a Level 4 event, with total prize money remaining at the US$350,000 (S$490,665) it currently offers.
There are six levels on the new scale, with four tournaments, comprising Level 1 and 2, offering million-dollar prize purses.
With the purses at all events required by the BWF to increase for the latter two years of the cycle, Singapore Badminton Association president Tan Kian Chew said securing sponsor was a major consideration when the association made its bid.
He told The Straits Times yesterday: "In all these sports events, you need to have a solid title sponsor to be able to continue, or upgrade to a higher level.
"I think we'll continue to look for good sponsors and if we can, we'll consider going for higher (tier) events."
Real estate developer OUE began its title sponsorship of the Singapore Open in 2014 and is into its last year of partnership.
The Singapore Open has been a Superseries-level tournament, which together with the Superseries Premier events form the second-highest tier of competitions on the BWF calendar, just behind the Olympics and the World Championships.
This year's OUE Singapore Open will take place from April 11-16 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. It will feature several reigning Olympic champions such as Chen Long (men's singles) of China and Carolina Marin (women's singles) of Spain.
In the new structure, the season finale (US$1.5 million) will be the lone Level 1 event, while stops in China, England and Indonesia (US$1 million) will form Level 2.
BWF president Poul-Erik Hoyer Larsen said of the changes: "We have determined the time is right for badminton to soar even higher and our key goals are to showcase our sport at a high level of presentation and competitiveness."
The BWF has yet to decide whether its new event format will continue taking on the Superseries moniker.