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IPL-style badminton league to begin without China

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China’s Wang Xiaoli, right, and Yu Yang will not be present at the Indian Badminton League. Alastair Grant / AP Photo
China’s Wang Xiaoli, right, and Yu Yang will not be present at the Indian Badminton League. Alastair Grant / AP Photo

NEW DELHI // The badminton powerhouse China will not take part in the inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL) next month, organisers said on Monday, taking some of the sheen off the million-dollar event.

The IBL, inspired by cricket’s popular Indian Premier League, is due to be held from August 14 to 31 and features six city-based franchises sold to businesses and individuals.

The former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar is said to have a stake in the Mumbai franchise, which will play against teams from Pune, Lucknow, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

The IBL, which begins soon after the world championships in China’s Guangzhou, failed to attract Chinese and Korean players despite being touted as badminton’s richest event.

“The Chinese will not be coming this year, mainly because the IBL clashes with their national games,” an organiser told Agence France-Presse. “But we hope to convince them to take part next year.”

China won all five titles up for grabs at both the world championships in London in 2011 and the London Olympics last year.

However, the players up for auction in New Delhi on Monday were picked up for impressive amounts by the franchises.

The men’s No 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, the top attraction in the tournament, fetched the highest bid of US$135,000 (Dh496,000) per year by the Mumbai team.

The women’s world No 3 and local favourite Saina Nehwal was bought by her home team of Hyderabad for $120,000, while Juliane Schenk of Germany went to Delhi for $90,000.

– Agence France-Presse