The domestic badminton season is set to begin next month after a 20-month hiatus with back-to-back senior ranking Level 3 tournaments, the Badminton Association of India announced on Wednesday.
The season will start in Chennai with the first tournament to be held from December 16 to 22, followed by another Level 3 tournament in Hyderabad from December 24 to 30. Both the events carry a prize money of ₹10 lakh each, and are part of the BAI’s new domestic format which was approved in 2019 but couldn’t be implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last date of entry for the Chennai event is November 24, while for Hyderabad it is December 1.
BAI secretary Ajay K. Singhania said the domestic season will begin maintaining COVID-related protocols and all players will have to carry RT-PCR negative reports.
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“COVID disrupted not just sports but life in general, but we are very pleased to announce the resumption of the Indian domestic badminton season. We have some world-class players and all the players getting back on court is great news for the entire badminton fraternity,” he said in a statement.
The senior ranking tournaments are classified into three levels – Level 3, BAI Series Badminton Tournament (6 in a year); Level 2, BAI Super Series Badminton Tournament (4 in a year); and Level 1, BAI Premier Super Series Badminton Tournament (2 in a year).
Mammoth prize money
With a mammoth prize pool of ₹2.2 crores for the entire domestic senior ranking tournaments, Level 3 category tournaments are the preliminary events carrying a prize money of ₹10 lakh, while Level 2 tournaments, to be played twice, have a purse of ₹15 lakh each followed by a Premier tournament with a prize money of ₹25 lakh.
These events will be followed by the Nationals, with a prize purse of ₹50 lakh. Apart from being financially lucrative to the players, the aim of the format is to make the domestic circuit increasingly competitive by allowing more players to break into the main circuit.