Next month, Aarhus will welcome the world’s elite badminton teams as the Thomas and Uber Cup finally take place. The tournament has been allowed to go ahead after it was delayed three times in 2020, with major countries now willing to travel. Denmark will be hoping to repeat their historic win in 2016 where they became the first country outside of Asia to win the Thomas Cup. They will have to progress past South Korea, France and Germany in Group B to do so, before potentially facing tournament favourites Indonesia and China in the later stages.
The Uber Cup is where the women’s badminton teams play. Denmark have never won this tournament but will be hoping the home advantage will come into play. In this tournament, Denmark is in group D and will compete with China, Malaysia and Canada to progress through the group stage.
Badminton is one of the most popular sports in Denmark, which is unusual for European countries. After football and handball badminton is the country’s most popular sport. Denmark is the most successful European badminton team and won a gold medal in the men’s singles at the Tokyo Olympics this year. There are over 550 badminton clubs in Denmark who will have young players inspired by the nation’s success. This year’s tournament is expected to be watched by millions all over the world as badminton continually grows as a global sport.
Despite the excitement of finally being able to host the tournament, there are still compromises made. Australia, who was originally meant to be in the tournament, have pulled out of many of this year’s major sporting events. Most importantly for Aarhus, fans from many Asian countries will not be able to travel to Denmark due to COVID restrictions. This is a major blow for the tourism industry in Aarhus as an influx of tourists would lead to a great boost for the travel and hospitality industry. However, Badminton Denmark spokesperson Jonas Kildegaard Rasmussen hopes that by October there will be a full capacity in the Ceres Arena including international supporters.
The Badminton World Federation will still insist on safety precautions to prevent a COVID outbreak during the tournament. This will include players and staff operating in a bubble and limiting contact with those not competing in the tournament, as well as regular testing and a one-way system in the stadium. The tournament will take inspiration from the Denmark Open which took place in October 2020, which means the players will have experience of playing badminton during the pandemic.