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IOC's Olympic Solidarity Support Badminton's 'Road to Beijing'

The Olympic Solidarity (OS) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has joined the International Badminton Federation (IBF) in two new initiatives to fund projects involving preparations of talented youngsters for future Olympic Games, specifically the 2008 Games in Beijing.

In the first project scholarship holders from the least developed badminton nations will receive support from OS to attendthe World Academy July 13-26 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The "international" option scholarship holders Dotun Akinsanya,Pedro Yang and Sara Jonsdottir will have full financial backing from OS to attend the Academy. Eight other scholarship holders from Mauritius, South Africa, Peru, Iceland and Bulgaria will receive joint funding from OS and IBF Development Committee to cover the costs of their participation.

"All three international scholarship holders (from Nigeria, Guatemala and Iceland) are receiving excellent support at their international centers," said IBF Development Committee Chair Federico Valdez.

"But it was agreed that we should bring them all together at least once during their scholarship period to review their training, progress and tournament programs for the twelve-month Olympic qualifying period which starts on May 1, 2003," he continued.

During the two-week-long World Academy the players will receivetraining, tuition and guidance from a team of top international coaches to support their Olympic qualification efforts.

It was also felt that eight further scholarship-holders' home situation required some additional expert input in key areas. IBFwill also bring these eight together at least once during their scholarship period to review progress and give advice. During theWorld Academy these players will also receive training, tuition and guidance from a team of top international coaches to support their qualification efforts.

Supported by Olympic Solidarity's Youth Development Program, the IBF Development Committee will hold two continental level youth training camps during the last four months of 2003. One of th4e camps is at the Cape Town Olympic Solidarity-approved training center and one in South America to include the Caribbean countries.The selection of young athletes to attend will be focused on those who have the potential to target the Beijing 2008Olympic Games.

Olympic Solidarity will the select, together with the respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs) the 16 (eight boys and eight girls) most promising young players from Africa and the 16 from Pan-America (excluding Canada and the United States) and then provide finance for travel and subsistence funding for them to attend the specialized 7-10 day training camps combined with a tournament.

OS has agreed that this will be a long-term project that, if successful, will last up to the Beijing Olympics 2008, and will concentrate on the same 32 players with little or no scope to substitute them. As such the project is singly aimed at delivering qualified players from Pan-Am and Africa for the 2008 Olympics in the Chinese capital.

The IBF Development Committee is expected to strongly lobby IBFCouncil to make the qualification criteria for the badminton eventat the Beijing Games in 2008 more inclusive, or "universal" in Olympic terms. That is it should enable more NOCs to qualify badminton players for the Games. Only 28 NOCs were represented inbadminton in Sydney 2000 against 55 from tennis which had the samenumber of athletes taking part.

The time table for this project is as follows:

1. Athletes identified through the IBF (ABF and PABC), and the list communicated by IBF to Olympic Solidarity by March 31, 2003:

2. Olympic Solidarity selects the athletes from NOCs who are entitled to participate in the Youth Development Program:

3. Olympic Solidarity contacts these NOCs in order to get theirapproval:

4. Olympic Solidarity confirms to the IBF which athletes have been retained by June 30:

5. Continental development training camps are set for September,October, November and December of this year.

Development Committee Chair Federico Valdez said: "As a packagethese new projects are very welcome following in the wake of all the other new initiatives in Africa and Pan-America already confirmed by Olympic Solidarity and the IBF Development Committee."

These other newly announced projects include the Athens 2004 scholarships, the Olympic Solidarity-approved international centerrun by Morten Frost, the new IBF-approved court surface for that center from sponsor SportCourt, the new Continental Confederation offices, and the Itinerant Coach appointments.

People's Daily Online

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