Badminton’s scoring system will remain unchanged from the existing format of best of three games of at least 21 points as the vote fell short at the Annual General Meeting by the smallest margin.

A proposal was put forward to change badminton’s scoring system from 3×21 to 5×11 but it fell just short of the needed two-thirds majority. Needing around 67% of the votes, the proposal received 66.31% for and 33.69% against, with a total of 282 votes cast.

The proposal had been put forward by Badminton Indonesia and the Maldives Badminton Association to amend the Laws of Badminton relating to the scoring system. It had been seconded by Badminton Asia, Badminton Korea Association and the Chinese Taipei Badminton Association. BWF Council had expressed its support for this proposal as well, but it came to a couple of votes against it in the final tally.

Explainer: The proposed changes to badminton’s scoring system

Changes that were propose to the existing scoring system:

  • A game shall be won by the side which first scores 11 points, instead of 21.
  • If the score becomes 10-all (instead of 20-all), the side which gains a two point lead first, shall win that game.
  • If the score becomes 14-all (instead of 29-all) the side scoring the 15th point (instead of 30th point) shall win that game.
  • The players shall change ends at the end of each completed game as long as the match carries on, and in the fifth game when a side first scores six points.   

“Our Membership has spoken, and despite the very small margin in which the two-thirds majority was not reached, the BWF respects the outcome to retain the three games to 21 points scoring system,” BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer, who has been a big advocate of the proposal which was already tabled once in 2018, said in a statement.

“It is now the second time such a proposal has not been approved, but I see the fantastic participation of the Membership and the decision reached today as an indication that the badminton community is very much engaged in the best interests of the sport during these difficult and challenging times. So, for that, I thank everyone for their role in this process.

“While the proposed scoring system change has been part of my vision to make badminton more exciting and to increase the entertainment value for stakeholders and fans, this will not deter us from continuing our efforts to increase excellence in badminton for all concerned in line with our Strategic Plan 2020-2024,” he added.

Even if approved, the system would not have been implemented before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and was likely not be fully implemented before January 2022 to allow players and coaches to practice and prepare themselves properly before the changes are implemented. The implementation date was to allow players and coaches ample opportunity to become accustomed to the system prior to the start of the Olympic Qualification Period for Paris 2024, the BWF had said in their statement.

The member nations voted on the proposal to amend the laws of the sport relating to the scoring system during the body’s 82nd AGM on Saturday that was held virtually.

The positions of BWF President, Deputy President and Vice President-Para Badminton, plus 20 BWF Council Members were also confirmed for 2021 to 2024.

Poul-Erik Høyer, KhunyingPatama Leeswadtrakul and Paul Kurzo were re-elected unopposed in their respective roles, signalling continuity at the top of the BWF leadership.