Denmark is to host the 21st Badminton World Championships in August 2014. For Brian Bach Moesgaard, event manager at the Danish Badminton Federation, the 2014 championships have posed the challenge of fulfilling a promise. To make the Copenhagen championships into a novel way of presenting the sport for the many visitors and home crowds to the Danish capital, and the millions who will be watching across the world.
By Julian Isherwood
There is little mistaking the confident pride at the Danish Badminton Federation when the issue of next year’s World Championships is on the table. After winning the stakes to host the 2014 worlds, the stage was set for a hectic year of preparations in order to live up to the innovative ideas that won the Danes the event.
“We have known what we want to do, and once we had won, it was a question initially of finding the financing for the things we have promised,” says Brian Moesgaard in his bright office in sportstown Brøndby, in the imposing shadow of the giant Brøndby Stadium.
“That is all in place in a fine collaboration with the local council and state. We have promised something innovative and different, and that is what we are going to provide,” he adds.
With its 5.5 million inhabitants, Denmark is probably one of the smallest nations to reach and stay at the pinnacle of the badminton world – with its sportsmen and women having taken to the sport like ducks to water.
“Of the major badminton countries we are certainly the smallest as far as population is concerned. But interest in the sport in Denmark is high, and we are hoping that the World Championships will prompt more young people to begin playing,” Moesgaard says, adding that internationally Denmark enjoys a lot of respect for its shuttlecock abilities.
“In China, which is by far the biggest badminton country, they sometimes see us as the epitome of an H.C. Andersen fairy tale – small but competing at the same level as the biggest,” he says.
The 2014 championships will be no different it seems, with a bevy of Danish names matching the 40-odd countries expected to grace the weeklong elegant battles on four courts in the modern surroundings of the Ballerup Arena.
“For the fans, there will be lots to see, and they will quickly notice the change in presentation. Likewise those unable to come to Copenhagen and watching the entire week on television, they too will notice a different way of presenting the sport,” Moesgaard says, but adds that the Danish organisers are hoping that as many as possible will make the trip from abroad.
While the Ballerup Arena cannot accommodate the indoor facilities for 15,000 that can be had in China, it does provide modern facilities for 5,000 each day in the week that the worlds run and the arena’s capacity is expected to be fully sufficient.
“We have already been selling the best seats, partout passes for the full week and partout passes for Friday to Sunday. That was a great success and we have sold most of them – in all some 10,000 tickets have already been snapped up,” says Moesgaard, adding that on December 20, sales for ordinary tickets will begin.
With seats reserved for those coming from abroad, the organisers are cooperating with travel agencies who are also able to sell combined tickets. Such is the case in China, where the country’s largest travel agency Ctrip is offering combined travel and tickets. Malaysia and Indonesia are also core badminton countries and Moesgaard’s team is currently seeking partners for ticket sales there.
“In badminton terms, Asia is very important. There are a lot of the best players there and badminton is very popular spectator sport,” Moesgaard says.
For those who do come to Copenhagen, the host organisation promises an experience to remember. Not just in terms of the game itself, but also the ease of being part of a visit to Royal Denmark.
“We have arranged shuttles from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the Arena or central Copenhagen. We want to make it easy for people to get around. Many will be coming not just for the badminton – but also the chance to take excursions to see things in and around Copenhagen. We want to make it easy for them to do so,” Moesgaard says.
As for the Arena itself, spectators will be treated to a new way of seeing the whole process of a game. Four courts with advanced individual lighting, allowing organisers to manage what is seen on which court.
“We can manage the lighting for each individual court instead of having to switch on all the lights in a hall. And normally people only see what’s going on in a single court. But we can show what is happening on the warm-up courts. People will be able to see the whole process from warming-up to competing,” Moesgaard promises.
“We want a sporting event and show that caters both for those who just want to see badminton and those looking for a more exclusive experience,” he says.
That latter experience is likely to come from Rasmus Kofoed of the Geranium Restaurant, 2011 winner of the Bocuse d’Or world chef championships and with whom the organisers are currently discussing ringside gastronomy.
“A world champion chef for a world championship and hopefully a Danish world champion. What could be more enticing for those who are looking for something exclusive,” Moesgaard concludes.
“At the 2014 worlds we want to reach out to everybody and promote the best game in the world and not limited to players and fans by using new media in ways that will be understood by everybody. It will be a badminton spectacle,” he concludes.