x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Security tight as Dan starts show in Hyderabad

The Olympic champion makes a flying start to his defence of the world badminton championship as England pull out fuels debate.

China's Lin Dan prepares to return to Misha Zilberman of Israel during the first round in Hyderabad.
China's Lin Dan prepares to return to Misha Zilberman of Israel during the first round in Hyderabad.

The Olympic champion Lin Dan made a flying start to his defence of the world badminton championship yesterday, making short work of Israel's Misha Zilberman on the first day of the tournament in Hyderabad, India. Bidding for a third world championship title, the fifth seed Dan outplayed Zilberman 21-9, 21-11 within 23 minutes.

Dan's Chinese compatriot, 11th-seeded Bao Chunlai suffered a shock exit though, falling to unseeded Dutchman Dicky Palyama 21-18, 21-14. Elsewhere, Danish third seed Peter Gade defeated the unseeded Ukrainian Valeriy Atrashchenkov 21-11, 21-16. Tight security has been installed at the championship, after reports of a "specific terrorist threat" caused English players to pull out of the championship a day before the event.

Indian officials criticised England, the only team to pull out, for taking a decision in haste. Badminton England's chief executive Adrian Christy, however, defended the decision saying the team were not given "appropriate levels of security" at the tournament. Badminton Scotland chief executive Anne Smillie joined the debate, and accused the England contingent of over-reacting as they flew home at the last moment.

"I don't think we have overreacted," Christy said. "We were very clear of our expectation of security before the event. We went to Hyderabad with every intention of being met with appropriate levels of security. "We were not particularly impressed with the level of security we were met with on arrival and subsequent days. It was absolutely the right thing to do." England badminton champion Nathan Robertson supported the team's decision.

"It wasn't a safe place for staff or players," said Robertson. "We were on back roads with no armed guards or anything - just a bus driver. It doesn't matter to me where it is in the world, we weren't safe in that situation. It wasn't a difficult decision in my mind." The team manager Andy Wood said security was so lax members of the public could easily walk into the players' hotel unchallenged. Thomas Lund, chief operating officer of the Badminton World Federation, said he was satisfied with the arrangements. "The players are enjoying the championships and the focus is back on badminton," said Lund. "England's decision to withdraw was an over-reaction, everything here's fine," he said.

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