For months now, talk has been building about the Olympic year, 2024. Now it’s here.
There are seven months left for the start of Paris 2024, but much before that, the destinies of players bound for the Olympics will be decided as qualifying winds down. The first quarter of the year will effectively decide the qualifiers to Paris, and so, with the season-opening PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2024 next week, it will be full steam ahead for those hoping to make the cut.
The season-opener being an HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 event, with substantial ranking points (and prize money) at stake, competitors will have to be at their sharpest from the very beginning of the year.
From Kuala Lumpur the Tour moves to New Delhi for the YONEX SUNRISE India Open 2024 (Super 750). January will see two more World Tour events – the DAIHATSU Indonesia Masters 2024 (Super 500) and the PRINCESS SIRIVANNAVARI Thailand Masters 2024 (Super 300).
The World Tour pauses in February, which has continental team championships in Asia, Europe and Pan Am, and continental individual championships in Oceania and Africa. The Tour will resume in late February with the YONEX German Open 2024 (Super 300).
Competitors will get a taste of what awaits them at the Olympics when they head to the YONEX French Open 2024 (Super 750) which has been scheduled for early March this year. That will be followed by the second Super 1000 event of the year, the YONEX All England; that week will also see the Orleans Masters (Super 300).
The Tour will continue in Europe through March, with the Swiss Open (Super 300) and Madrid Spain Masters (Super 300).
April will call time on qualification, with the remaining continental individual championships – such as the Badminton Asia Championships (9-14 April), the 2024 European Championships (also 9-14 April) and the YONEX Pan Am Individual Championships (11-14 April). The last date of qualification is 28 April 2024.
The fortunes of the contestants will be keenly followed during this last phase of qualifying, with their form a possible indicator of their performance in Paris. Will the dominant players – Viktor Axelsen, An Se Young, Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan and Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong – continue to stand above the competition in the months leading up to Paris 2024? Or will the relentless pressure weigh them down, enabling their competitors to bridge the distance?
An intriguing aspect is that every Olympic year typically witnesses several high-profile retirements. (Tokyo 2020 was an exception because of the pandemic-affected months, which possibly contributed to prolonging the careers of veterans.) But will the months following Paris 2024 see an exodus?
In any case, the next few months will be a bonanza for badminton fans as players wrestle with the complicated mix of factors that contribute to success, particularly in an Olympic year.