SEVILLE, Spain, AFP
Thailand’s Korn Dabbaransi was elected president of the International Badminton Federation here Sunday, beating Indonesian Justian Suhandinata in a hotly contested ballot. Korn defeated Suhandinata in a landslide victory after the election had been reduced to a two-horse race following the withdrawal from the running on Saturday of the Sultan of Brunei. Korn won 180 votes with Suhandinata trailing in with just 29. Korn, a former deputy prime minister of Thailand and current president of the country’s badminton association, was elected for a four-year term. The annual meeting election was unprecedented in the 67-year history of the IBF. Previously the global body’s ruling council nominated a candidate who was returned unopposed. That tradition was broken with when IBF vice-president Suhandinata announced his decision to run against the Sultan, who had been nominated as the council’s candidate in November last year. But the billionaire ruler of Brunei pulled out of the running on Saturday leaving life-long friend Korn to run against Suhandinata.
The withdrawal of either the Sultan or Korn had been expected. Korn was regarded as an insurance candidate to stand in the event of the Sultan pulling out. The Sultan’s supporters had been expected to swing behind Korn in the event of his withdrawal. The election race had highlighted a split between age-old factions within the IBF. Suhandinata, a 54-year-old Indonesian businessman who has been heavily involved in the sport as player and administrator for nearly 40 years, was viewed as representing the IBF’s conservative faction. His opponents claimed he would be likely to resist moves to modernise badminton, which many feel are essential for the game’s future development. Korn was the candidate of progressive elements in the IBF who are keen on accelerating moves to make the sport more attractive for television. Both men addressed delegates shortly before the vote. Suhandinata said he would aim to improve the strength of badminton’s competitions, saying he was determined to prevent any tournament from being postponed or cancelled during his presidency. But he sought to quell fears he had any ulterior motives for seeking the badminton’s top job. “I have not any hidden, personal intentions,” Suhandinata said. “I am simply a pure badminton person,” he added. Korn made no secret of his desire to make badminton more attractive. “Marketability will be the name of the game,” Korn said in his address. “Badminton has come to a cross roads. It is one of various sports which needs to make itself more attractive,” he added.