After a hiatus of over two years, the Indian Badminton League (IBL) will return on January 2 next year with a glitzy opening ceremony in the city. There have been concerns over the participation of international players in IBL-II given the Rio Olympics is in the same year and players will be working towards qualifying for the Games around the same time.
Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta
However, Badminton Association of India president Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta has allayed the fears. "There are a good seven months between the two tournaments (IBL and Rio Olympics). The ISL also does not clash with any ranking tournament.
"Between January 2 and January 17 (the day of the final), there is no ranking tournament. We have gotten confirmations from most of the national and international players. In fact, players are happy that the tournament is being held in an Olympic year because they have a good platform for a competition. International players are very enthusiastic about the tournament.
"Players want to play every month. The Indian players are happy to rub shoulders alongside foreign players so that they can learn their techniques. It will give them better exposure to competition in the run-up to the Olympics," said Dr Gupta.
One of the franchises from IBL-I though has been replaced. Chennai will replace Pune and be the sixth team alongside Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, New Delhi and Bangalore.
IBL is a long-term plan insisted Dr Gupta. "We have signed agreements for 10 years with all the franchises. The auctions will be held in November and all players will go into the auction pool. No franchise will be able to retain players," he added.