The International University Sports Federation (FISU) has announced badminton is to have a compulsory spot in the summer Universiade from 2021, while also stating its confidence that this year’s edition of the multi-sport event in Gwangju, South Korea will be unaffected by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) situation in the country.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) had put forward an application to the FISU to consider having badminton as a regular sport in the Universiade programme. FISU voted in favour of the move and, as of 2021, badminton will feature as a compulsory sport at the event.
Badminton was previously an optional sport at the Universiade and was included in the most recent editions of the event in 2007, 2011 and 2013. With the sport also due to feature at this year’s event, which begins tomorrow (Friday) in Gwangju, the FISU Executive Committee ruled that Badminton should become a permanent fixture. The summer Universaide currently has 10 compulsory sports, with hosts given the option of adding up to three optional sports.
“It is certainly another significant step for badminton on the global stage and we look forward to its debut as a compulsory sport in 2021,” BWF president Poul-Erik Høyer said. “There is a lot of scope to develop badminton among universities and other tertiary-level institutions and today is a step in the right direction, especially given our focus on this segment of the global community."
Meanwhile, FISU has stressed that the MERS outbreak in South Korea is under control. A number of people in the country are confirmed to have died after contracting MERS, with the current outbreak in Korea the largest outside of Saudi Arabia.
Despite concerns over staging the event during the outbreak, FISU and the South Korean government last month stressed that this year’s Universiade would still go ahead. The support came despite the government imposing a red travel alert, advising against any non-essential journeys to the country.
Lawrence Rink, chairman of the FISU medical committee, has now backed up the comments he made last month about the outbreak being “clustered” around medical facilities, stating that he can “guarantee” that the event will go ahead without any MERS-related incidents.
Rink said today (Thursday): “This is the fourth straight day without a newly reported case. Our job is to be sure these games are run safely; there are still concerns about MERS, but I can guarantee we will have a games without incident.”