Strengthening global development and coverage of the sport are at the heart of this reformat that will with effect from the 2014 edition see an exciting expansion of the competition from 12 to 16 participating teams, who will qualify based on a World Ranking determination process.
“There is a two-fold strategy. First, we believe that the sport is now ready to be taken to a new level of global exposure where we want to take the highest quality competition of the sport to the biggest possible world-wide television audience”, said BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund.
TV broadcast interest of the event reached a new high at the recently concluded 2012 Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in Wuhan enabling fans worldwide to have increased access to the biennial event. This stands as a testament to the strength of the competition and the potential it holds.
“It has always been our strategic goal to continually increase the accessibility to the sport to our worldwide fans and audience”, said Lund, “the expansion to showcase 16 high-quality teams will make the event potentially attractive to an increased number of television markets and viewers.”
The 16 teams will be divided into 4 groups of 4 teams each, featuring the Cup holders, hosts and the required number of highest placed teams on the World Rankings upon consideration of the new Continental Confederation distribution and quota regulations.
A minimum 3 teams from Europe and 3 teams from Asia will automatically qualify to compete for both Cups based on their World Rankings, while, the highest-placed team in the Thomas OR Uber Cup from Pan Am, Oceania and Africa will be given a guaranteed ticket to the event. If the hosts are also the Cup holders an additional place will be filled from the World Rankings.
“Team events are fundamentally a reflection of the depth in development of the sport in each country. Moving from a regional knock-out qualification process to a World Ranking determination process sets our Member Associations in motion to adopt a long-term development strategy,” said BWF Deputy President and Events Committee Chairperson Paisan Rangsikitpho.
“This shift will cement the Thomas and Uber Cups as an elite showcase of nations who have effortlessly nurtured their talents with a focus on sustainable development,” he concluded.
The current competition format at the 2012 edition saw a total of 12 nations competing for the coveted titles upon qualification via their respective regional team championship. Continuation of the regional team championships will be at the discretion of each Continental Confederation.
The decision to reformat was first taken by the BWF Council in December 2011 in Queenstown, New Zealand, and then finalised at the BWF Council Meetings in June 2012 in Wuhan, China. The detailed new competition regulations will be submitted to BWF Council in December 2012.