International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach praised the BWF for its record in ensuring badminton’s integrity during a visit to Badminton Association of Malaysia’s National Training Centre today.
Bach, who is in Kuala Lumpur for the 128th IOC Session, watched Malaysia’s next generation of Olympic hopefuls going through training drills at the centre in Stadium Juara, Bukit Kiara.
“The BWF with President Poul-Erik Høyer has done an excellent job with respect to integrity of badminton,” said Bach, speaking to media.
“Badminton has taken excellent development initiatives. We see in the IOC how BWF is addressing challenges of modern sport, how it is ensuring integrity of competition. This is why this wonderful sport has a strong presence in the Olympic programme.”
Twenty-two players, aged 13 and 14, were training when the IOC President and his entourage visited the stadium. BAM Performance Director Morten Frost showed the IOC President around the courts and explained various aspects of the national programme. Bach chatted with a young player and asked her about her training and ambitions. He then borrowed a racket and engaged in a few rallies.
Accompanying the IOC President were BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer and BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund.
Bach, fencing gold medallist at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and Høyer, badminton gold medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, then struck up a playful pose with Høyer explaining to players that the badminton net shot had a similar posture to fencing.
The IOC President applauded BAM’s training facilities for the youth.
“The Olympic Games is about young people. They are the future of Olympic sports. It’s great for me to see how they are being trained here.
“It’s great to see these young, ambitious athletes. The training conditions here are excellent. They are preparing for the Youth Olympic Games 2018, and some are even preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It’s a pleasure being with young inspired athletes. I got an opportunity to play a bit of sport today, and to see young hopefuls of Malaysian badminton. I enjoyed it very much.”
Bach expressed his desire to attract more young people to playing sport – rather than simply watching it.
“We cannot have people watching sport but not playing. We need to get the couch potatoes off the couch. If they cannot go to sport, sport has to go to them. We have to make efforts with governments to have good physical-education programmes in schools and universities.”
Concurring with the IOC President, Høyer stated this is one of BWF’s focus areas; getting more youth involved and active in sport.
“It’s very important that we address the youth. We have the Shuttle Time programme. The aim is to engage more young players; that’s one of our key areas. Every young person in school has to have the chance to hold a racket and hit a shuttlecock, to get the feeling of playing badminton.”
Bach and his entourage were greeted at the centre by senior BAM officials including President Yang Mulia Tengku Tan Sri (Dr) Mahaleel Tengku Ariff and Deputy President Yang Bahagia Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria.