Badminton has a surprisingly long history given its relatively recent introduction onto the Olympic scene. Badminton was invented long ago; its origins date back at least two thousand years to the game of battledore and shuttlecock played in ancient Greece, India and China. Badminton took its name from Badminton House in Gloucestershire, the home of the Duke of Beaufort, where the sport was played in the last century. By coincidence, Gloucestershire is now the base for the International Badminton Federation.
Founded in 1934 with nine members - Canada, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales, membership of the International Badminton Federation has risen steadily. There was a notable increase in new members after badminton's Olympic debut at Barcelona. Development in the sport continues to grow and the current 142 members is expected to increase further.
The first major IBF tournament was the Thomas Cup (world men's team championships) in 1948. Since then, the number of world events has increased with the addition of the Uber Cup (ladies' team), World Championships, Sudirman Cup (mixed team), World Juniors and the World Grand Prix Finals. 1996 saw the last of a highly successful invitational event, the World Cup. Started in 1981 the World Cup was established to provide top players with an opportunity to earn greater levels of prize money. As the World Grand Prix circuit has grown and prize money has increased it was felt that the World Cup had served its purpose.
New competitions are planned including one-off spectaculars and the development of a SuperSeries. It is anticipated that these will attract greater sponsorship, prize money and television. In these days of mass communications, the importance of television to a world sport is self-evident. Television brings the action, the excitement, the explosive power of badminton into homes around the world. It pulls in the crowd to see the action live; it pulls in major sponsors.
Badminton has a rich history and its future looks even brighter!