Badminton powerhouse China will not take part in the inaugural Indian Badminton League next month, organisers said on Monday, taking much of the sheen off the million-dollar event.
The IBL, inspired by cricket's popular Indian Premier League, is due to be held from August 14-31 and features six city-based franchises sold to businesses and individuals.
Former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar is said to have a stake in the Mumbai franchise which will play against teams from Pune, Lucknow, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
The IBL, which begins soon after the world championships in China's Guangzhou, failed to attract Chinese and Korean players despite being touted as badminton's richest event.
"The Chinese will not be coming this year mainly because the IBL clashes with their national games," an organiser told AFP. "But we hope to convince them to take part next year."
China won all five titles up for grabs at both the world championships in London in 2011 and the London Olympics last year. They also won the Sudirman Cup team event in Malaysia in May.
Among the players who will be sold at an auction in New Delhi later on Monday are men's world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and women's world number three Saina Nehwal of India.
Other players in the auction include Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, Hu Yun of Hong Kong, Juliane Schenk of Germany and Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.
Each team will comprise four foreign players, six Indians and one upcoming Indian junior.
Teams will play each other twice on an home-and-away basis in the preliminary league with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals.
Each tie will comprise of five matches - two men's singles, and one each in women's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles.