Indian badminton may be riding a wave of success but the ambiguity over the next edition of the Indian Badminton League (IBL) refuses to clear up. It is set for another postponement. And, if the organisers manage to conduct the event sometime soon, it may not be as high-profile as the inaugural edition held in 2013.
The second season of the IBL, originally scheduled to be held in September 2014, was moved to January this year. It was later pushed to April-May.
With the Rio Olympic Games scheduled for August 2016, qualifying for the quadrennial event is every player's top priority.
To be eligible to participate in the Olympic Games, athletes must have played in a minimum of three tournaments in singles counting towards the world ranking lists during the Olympic-qualifying period and be registered in the rankings list on May 5.
The Olympic qualifying period commences on May 1, 2015. Since the shuttlers will be aiming for sufficient points that guarantees their qualification by the deadline day (May 5, 2016) by participating in all BWF-sanctioned events, not many may find time for the IBL.
"We are searching for a window. It is an Olympic-qualification year so it is difficult for us to get players. Usually, they are more interested in Super Series events, but they are as keen on other events like the Grand Prix Gold keeping the qualification in mind," Punnaiah Chowdary, the Badminton Association of India's events and tournaments secretary, told HT.
"We are trying to find a slot around July-August where we can conduct it. Our president (Akhilesh Das Gupta) will take a final call sometime this month."
There is also a possibility of the IBL being pushed to next year. "We may go ahead with
only a few top players if the sponsors are keen. Or else, the IBL may not happen till after the Olympics," a top BAI official said.
Another reason for the delay is that not all franchises are ready. "Another worry for us is that we may have to look for a couple of new franchises, as it has been almost two years since the first edition," the official added.