Organisers of this year’s Singapore Open are turning on the charm to attract the world’s top shuttlers to the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
While the marquee event was held in April in the previous four-year cycle, which ended last year, the Badminton World Federation World Tour Super 500 tournament has been shifted to July 15-22.
The US$355,000 (S$473,000) event comes after the July 3-8 Indonesia Open, a higher-tier Super 1000 tournament with US$1.25 million in prize money, and the Super 500 Thailand Open (July 10-15).
This is the first season of the 37-tournament, five-tier world tour, which also comprises Super 750, 300 and 100 tournaments.
Singapore Badminton Association secretary-general Michael Foo said: “(The new date) may put us at a disadvantage. We are the third stop of back-to-back events in this region, and some players may choose to leave after the Thai stop.
“However, the players also love the city, the food and the environment and we also hope to draw them in by being very good hosts, with nice hotels and hospitality.”
He also saw the proximity of the Singapore Open to the Aug 18 to Sept 2 Asian Games in Indonesia as a double-edged sword, saying: “While it may be taxing for some of the players to play three back-to-back tournaments, some of the players may well choose to use the Singapore Open as preparation for the Asian Games.”
Owing to scheduling issues or injuries, last-minute withdrawals were not uncommon; the 2017 edition alone saw big names such as Chen Long (China), Jan Jorgensen (Denmark), Saina Nehwal (India) and Malaysian pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying pull out.
Organisers are exploring ideas such as partnering tourist spots, after observing that the young foreign competitors at the annual Singapore Youth International Series would visit attractions like the Universal Studios Singapore.
As for crowd turnout, Foo noted that it is more dependent on the quality of the field than the date. He said: “We are hoping to engage the fans more, maybe target the badminton-playing crowd from the ActiveSG academy or the schools to bring in the crowd.”
He is also confident about bringing in sponsors; a title sponsor could defray as much as half the estimated $1.5 million cost.
He said: “We made the bid without a title sponsor and we are very grateful for the support of Sport Singapore and the Singapore Sports Hub in our bid. That said, we are still looking but are taking a different approach. Instead of approaching a potential sponsor for $500,000, we are reaching out to 10 – for $50,000 each, for example.
“It might be easier to get people to sponsor smaller amounts.”