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India Open fails to lure sponsors

other Updated: Mar 23, 2009 00:48 IST

At a time when the Indian Premier League is willing to go on a spending spree to conduct the Twenty20 league in another country, the organisers of the second India Open badminton tournament are treading a tight path on a shoestring budget.

Though the $120,000 prize money issue has been taken care by rights holders and title sponsors, Yonex Sunrise, the Andhra Pradesh Badminton Association has failed to rope in any other major sponsor. The state body had contracted sports management company NEB Sports to raise sponsorship for the biggest annual badminton tournament in India but the company failed to live up to expectations due to the economic slowdown and the upcoming election.

"It's very difficult to raise money in this slowdown and so we are conducting the tournament mostly from the APBA funds, money raised by the Gopichand Academy and financial help provided by the Badminton Association of India," organising secretary Punnaiah Choudhury said.

Though Choudhary and tournament director Pullela Gopichand insist that the lack of funds would not affect the conduct of the tournament, the organisers have had to cut down on all promotional activities planned around the tournament.

"We had a fashion show and many other activities last year. But this time, there would be no such activities," Gopichand added. The difference is evident the moment one enters the city. Unlike last year, there are hardly any banners promoting the tournament.

Despite this being a Grand Prix gold-level event, the organisers have done well to rope in the likes of world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and former world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of the English contingent has meant that there would be a redraw for the men's singles qualifying since at least two qualifying spots would be left vacant after the promotions are decided.