DUBAI // The decision to limit entry to the UAE Open badminton tournament to residents of the Emirates has paid off handsomely with a record number of entries for the competition. Demand from players has been so staggering that the organisers have been forced to extend the length of the event to fit in all the games. There had been fears that the ban on overseas players for the first time in the event's 25-year history would harm the tournament, the most lucrative in the region with a prize fund of Dh50,000.
But the 25-day competition, which is taking place at the India Club in Dubai, received a record 501 entries - up more than 140 from the previous year - for the 24 category event, forcing organisers to move the final from June 18 to June 25. Players from as far a field as Denmark and China had previously taken part but this year organisers changed the rules to only permit UAE residents in a bid to increase local participation in the sport.
Siddharth Balachandran, the India Club chairman, was among the officials at the Monday night launch of the tournament, which will see matches played in the 21-point format in line with rules and regulations of the World Badminton Confederation. As many as 15 to 20 matches will be played on a daily basis from 10am to 9pm. Each player will be restricted to participate in three events. * Agency