The Badminton World Federation has joined forces with global sponsor HSBC, the international banking giant, to launch AirBadminton, a new outdoor version of the sport.
The BWF said the format, which was unveiled in a ceremony in Guangzhou in China today, has been “designed to create opportunities for people of all ages and ability to play badminton on hard, grass and sand surfaces in parks, gardens, streets, playgrounds, and beaches around the world."
AirBadminton has been in the works for five years, and will be played on new court dimensions, making it more suitable for outdoor environments.
The BWF and HSBC have also collaborated to create the AirShuttle, a new shuttlecock that has increased durability, stability and wind resistance for outdoor badminton.
At this stage, AirBadminton is seen primarily as a means to increase participation worldwide rather than as a new format for professional competitions.
Speaking at the ceremony at Guangzhou's Tianhe Gymnasium, BWF president Poul-Erik Høyer said: “Strategically, AirBadminton will allow us to fulfil our overall objective of putting a badminton racket in the hands of as many people as possible. Given that most people’s first experience with badminton comes in an outdoor environment, we are now making it easier for everyone to access the sport through a new outdoor game. In the future, we see AirBadminton as an exciting, new, energetic version of the sport. Overall, the aim is to inspire more people to play more badminton in more places.”
The BWF will be hoping for major uptake in China given it is one of badminton's major markets, and today's launch was held in partnership with the Chinese Badminton Association and the Guangzhou Sports Bureau.
HSBC became a principal global sponsor of the BWF in a four-year deal signed at the start of 2018.