The badminton community welcomed two of sport’s most well-known identities to witness the finals of the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 in Basel, Switzerland on Sunday.
IOC President and Olympic Champion Thomas Bach participated in official ceremonies ahead of the medal matches and was courtside for the women’s doubles and women’s singles deciders.
Swiss darling and five-time Grand Slam singles tennis champion Martina Hingis was also in attendance and was there to greet fellow Yonex athlete Kento Momota after his men’s singles victory.
For Bach, it was a great way to get back into the summer season of sport following a short holiday. He was particularly impressed by the all-Japanese women’s doubles final between Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara (gold) and Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota (silver).
“[It was an] amazing match with an amazing crowd. To see the three-game win, with all the coming back in the second game and in the third, gives excellent hope for a brilliant Olympic competition next year having seen two Japanese doubles pairs performing in such a way.
“I think the Japanese crowd will go crazy next year,” he said.
Bach told the media he had always held a soft spot for badminton.
“It might have been some time since an IOC President attended a BWF World Championships, but I have been a regular visitor to Olympic and continental competitions because badminton is such a fascinating sport and I personally like it very much having played it in my youth for leisure.”
BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer thanked President Bach for attending and said it had been a successful week of badminton in Basel.
“Having IOC President Thomas Bach here and sharing my sport with Mr. Bach is a great honour because he actually knows a lot about our game.
“We have seen from today’s brilliant performances that badminton has huge potential for continued growth around the globe.
“The fact that the World Championships and the Para Badminton World Championships have been held in tandem this week for the very first time is a great sign for the future of the sport.
“I congratulate all our world champions on their achievements in Basel and I wish all athletes the best of luck in their quest to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.
President Bach added that all roads now led to an amazing badminton competition at Tokyo 2020.
“It will be a fantastic event in Tokyo because the Japanese athletes are very promising and are performing very well. I’m sure the Japanese crowd will fully support the home team.
“For the worldwide audience, we have already seen great interest [in badminton] at Rio 2016 and this will only improve with Tokyo 2020, so all lights are green [for next year].”