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Reigning champs China off to stellar start at Sudirman Cup

Hee Yong Kai Terry (L) of Singapore hits a return beside partner Tan Wei Han Jessica during their mixed doubles match with Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong of China at the Sudirman Cup Finals 2023 world badminton championships in Suzhou, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on May 16, 2023.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Holders China defeated Singapore at the Sudirman Cup on Tuesday, moving into the next round of one of badminton’s biggest tournaments.

After winning the mixed doubles and men’s singles, hosts China sealed the showdown in the women’s singles where He Bingjiao beat Yeo Jia Min 22-20, 21-15.

The biennial Sudirman Cup has an extra edge this year because performances count towards qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The mixed-team competition in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou is the first international sporting event in China since the country ditched its tough zero-Covid policies late last year.

China are clear favourites this year to retain the trophy, which they have won a record 12 times.

The win over Singapore on Tuesday followed a 5-0 thrashing of minnows Egypt in their opening game on Sunday.

Indonesia, winners and hosts of the inaugural Sudirman Cup in 1989, also bagged a second win on Tuesday after taking down Germany 4-1.

Thailand, whose best Sudirman Cup performances include three third-place finishes in the past five editions, defeated Canada 4-1 Tuesday for their second group-stage victory.

Monday’s matchups saw four-time winners South Korea cruise to a 4-1 win over England, while Indonesia whitewashed Canada 5-0 and Thailand downed Germany 4-1.

Nearly all international sporting events hosted by China were called off when the pandemic began.

The most notable exception were the Beijing Winter Olympics last year, which were held in a virus-secure “bubble”.

Play for this year’s Sudirman Cup kicked off on Sunday in Suzhou and is scheduled to last for one week.

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