The TOTAL BWF Para-Badminton World Championships 2019 will take place in Basel, Switzerland from 20 to 25 August 2019 and host more than 300 athletes from 49 nations.
This 12th edition will be the first time that the Para badminton world championships will be held concurrently with the TOTAL BWF World Championships at the same venue since the inaugural event in 1998.
In his welcome speech, BWF president Poul-Erik Høyer expressed his gratitude to Swiss Badminton, the city of Basel and the Basel 2019 organising committee, for their efforts and for taking the responsibility to host two such high-profile events together.
Swiss Badminton Chairman Robbert de Kock said that the hosting of both world championships concurrently marks a first in world sports history and is an excellent opportunity to promote the fast, dynamic and powerful sport of badminton in Switzerland.
The athletes too, shared their thoughts on this unique situation.
“It is a big opportunity for us the Para badminton athletes because I’ve never seen such a big media interest in our sport before,” said Karin Suter-Erath of Switzerland at the welcome press conference.
Her sentiments were echoed by Leani Ratri Oktila of Indonesia, who is No.1 in the women’s singles standing lower (SL4) category and by Jack Shephard of England.
“This is a unique opportunity for us and I intend to get as much of a good experience as possible by watching the able-bodied athletes compete,” said Oktila.
“I think having both these events together will help grow the sport of Para badminton. I’m looking forward to watching the matches and learning from the able-bodied athletes so that I can include some of the skills into my game,” said Sheppard, the reigning SS6 men’s singles world champion.
Much of the focus however, was on the inclusion of Para badminton in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
“It is great that these events are together this year as it provides the last opportunity for all our athletes to be in one place before we embark on our quest for the Olympics and Paralympics,” said Yuma Yamazaki of Japan.
“The able-bodied Japan team is focused on the Olympics and now the Para badminton team is shaping up the same way and to be able to compete in Tokyo 2020 will be a great honour,” added Yamazaki, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the women’s doubles wheelchair (WH1-WH2) category with partner Sarina Satomi.
Suter-Erath who will compete in the women’s singles (WH1) category as well as the WH1-WH2 women’s doubles with Cynthia Mathez and mixed doubles with Luca Oligiati said: “These are the two biggest highlights of my career that I’ve been training and fighting for. The qualification process is still going on and I hope to play my best and be in Tokyo.”
Fans can expect some of the highest level badminton this week as all athletes have come to Basel eager to fulfill their ambitions – whether it is to go home as a world champion or to gather qualifying points for Tokyo 2020.
“I’m excited. The game has changed a lot since my win in 2017 but I believe I’m in great shape and I’m confident,” said Shephard.
Oktila expressed her intentions to achieve the best results possible as this event provides the preparation for her quest for the Tokyo.2020 Paralympics.
“I’ve been working hard these last few years and I hope to win here and qualify for Tokyo 2020,” said India’s men’s doubles standing upper (SU5) specialist Raj Kumar.
Raj also praised the newly-renovated St. Jakobshalle in Basel which is one of the advanced multi-purpose sports arenas in Europe.“It is the best hall for Para badminton and I am looking forward to playing here and watching the able-bodied athletes compete in theirs,” he said.