Badminton World Federation may again change the scoring system to reduce match timings

The Annual General Meeting of the BWF will consider a proposal to change the current system from three games of 21 to five games of 11.

Having introduced a new World Tour calendar, Badminton World Federation is now looking to bring more changes to ensure that the sport remains competitive in the fast-paced, cutting-edge sports-entertainment industry, and has proposed a new scoring system as well as reduction in on-court coaching among other changes.

The proposals will come up for discussion and voting at BWF’s Annual General Meeting scheduled to be held on May 19 in Bangkok.

While most other proposals have the backing of all stake holders, the change in the scoring system would be the main point of debate at the meeting with the Asian Bloc already against the proposal.

BWF had been experimenting with the 11x5 scoring system since 2014, after it felt that the matches were going too long in the current system, which was introduced in 2006. The current system was a major change from the side-out scoring system. “Changing the scoring system – with specific focus on elite international tournaments – is an essential part of this strategic, multi-dimensional plan to innovate our competition rules,” BWF president Poul-Erik Hoyer said in a release on Wednesday.

“Our aim is to enhance and enrich our sport with wide-ranging initiatives that will realise badminton’s vast global potential; taking it to unprecedented heights in all spheres,” Hoyer added. “It’s time for change: time to bring in new peaks, more excitement and increase broadcast and fan appeal.”

The AGM will also consider the proposal to do away with on-court coaching and introducing time-out options for players and endorsing the service rule with a fixed 1.15-metre height, which is being introduced as an experiment starting from the All England Open in March.

In a Powerpoint presentation circulated to explain the need for these proposed changes, the BWF has pointed out that the length of matches has increased dramatically over the last two Olympics cycles. It also said that there are unexciting phases during the match and there is a need to reduce the physical and mental stress on the players.

The presentation further states that the key objective behind the proposed system includes building suspense quicker, increasing the excitement and shortening the length of matches (to optimise television broadcast).

However, not everyone is excited with the proposed changes. Badminton Asia, which has been questioning the rationale behind making 12 tournaments mandatory for top-15 ranked players in a year, has been opposing the 11x5 system ever since it was introduced on the experimental basis in 2014.

“The new scoring system failed before,” Badminton Asia Secretary General Hong Ki Kim had said while talking to The Field during his visit to India in January. “To be honest, I don’t know why they want to repeat themselves again. If they want, why don’t they try 15 [points]. They say [the] media [and] television wants it. I think that is only an excuse – another way of showing that they are chasing something else.”

However, it seems that the Asian Bloc does not have the numbers to challenge the change proposed by the world body, which has 169 members. If the proposal is passed, the new scoring system could come into effect for the Olympic qualification cycle in 2019.

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