Dec 21 (Reuters) - Indonesian Justian Suhandinata will run for the presidency of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) vowing to strengthen the sport’s Olympic standing after a public relations disaster at the London Games.
Current President Kang Young-joong of South Korea said earlier this month he would step down from the role in May after eight years spent increasing participation and developing the lucrative ‘superseries’ events.
Suhandinata, who failed in a previous bid to head the organisation in 2001, said he expected a challenge from Malaysian Badminton President Nadzmi Mohd Salleh.
“Queries about my interest were raised as early as a year ago, but I said I would not step forward for it as long as an Asian still held the post,” Suhandinata told Friday’s Jakarta Post newspaper.
“I only know that the head of BAM seemed to be interested (in the post) although he said he would rather wait and see.”
The sport came under fire in London in July when four women’s doubles pairs from South Korea, China and Indonesia deliberately played to lose their matches in order to get a more favourable draw. All four pairings were disqualified and banned after the farcical scenes.
The BWF also had to shelve plans to introduce a rule that all women players had to wear skirts in a bid to glamorise the sport after the move drew criticism from athletes.
Despite the problems, the London Games saw a record 51 countries participating in the sport, which strives to grow outside its main Asia base, with the BWF saying all sessions were sold out.
Suhandinata said he wanted to build on that success and help the sport gain greater recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“When it was first at the Olympics, badminton was ranked 26th (by the IOC). Currently it is between 16 and 17,” Suhandinata said.
“As candidates, we believe we have the experience, expertise and passion to propel badminton to even greater heights.” (Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford)