Czech Para Badminton Emil Open 2023 will start this Saturday in Prague. Players from 11 European countries will take part


On May 27-28, 2023, the 6th International Parabadminton Championship of the Czech Republic will take place in the BB Arena Štěrboholy in Prague. We asked a few questions to the main organizer Tomáš Vovs from Badminton Sharks Brno.

How does the organization of this year differ from the previous ones that you were in charge of?

We used to organize a tournament with three people. The preparations kept us busy for about two weeks. This year it is much bigger. We moved the tournament to Prague to make it more accessible to foreign athletes, and the starting list is several times larger than in previous years. The event is much more demanding to organize. I am very grateful to the co-organizers from Emil's sports. They have experience in big sporting events and I think we have a lot to learn from them. But we're also finding that we're not doing everything completely wrong. We also received essential support from the Czech Badminton Association and other partners and sponsors.

Last year, 22 players from three countries participated in the tournament. How many registered this year and how do you rate the start list?

We approached two hundred potential participants from 25 European countries. In the end, 62 players from 11 countries signed up for the tournament, which is still a jump in participants and we are very happy about these numbers. Most of the classification groups have been filled, so all players have opponents. The lengthy preparation work paid off. I am extremely happy for the new Czech players, but of course also for every new foreigner who has not yet played in the Czech Republic. For most of the Czech participants, it will be an extraordinary experience, because they have never started a tournament with such a large participation. The stars of the championship will be former world number 12 David Follett from England or former world number 14 player Marilou Maurel from France. Athletes from 11 European countries will participate in the tournament: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, France, the Netherlands and England.

A number of Czech para badminton players will participate in the tournament.

What is involved in organizing such an exceptionally large parabadminton tournament?

For the tournament, we have secured a tournament hotel with a large amount of barrier-free accommodation, we arrange a number of transports of foreign teams from the airport on the route hotel - hall - airport. Before the tournament, we organized a classification camp in Brno, so the national classifiers offer their services in 6 classification groups. This year the classification assessment is voluntary, from next year it will be mandatory. The first two classification camps were also held in Brno and Prague. We managed to reach out to partners, so all participants will receive several gifts. At the tournament, the opening ceremony and medal ceremony will be presented by a professional presenter from Czech Television. The staff of the Czech Badminton Association, Czech Television's Paralympic Magazine and Czech Radio's Sports Radio Journal will be coming to the tournament. The tournament will take place in groups with subsequent progression to the K.O. elimination system, as well as on the world circuit or ME and WC. The tournament will be managed by 2 senior and 16 main referees. The preparation was the responsibility of six organizers, during the tournament there will be 15 of us. In addition, up to 40 volunteers will be added.

In Prague, a new training group is opening in the Garden City with the organizational support of the Prague Wheelchair Sports Club, do you know about this news?

Of course yes, I gave them some advice in the beginning. We also recommended to our colleagues from Prague to combine the recruitment day with classification training. It is only good that players in other cities will also have the opportunity to train. So far it is possible in Brno, Český Krumlov, Janské Lázně, Orlová, Ostrava and now also in Prague. New players from recruitment training in Prague and for the tournament immediately reported to us. Perhaps we will soon be able to start the Czech Cup with this one. However, there are still not enough players.

Although you are certainly fully occupied with Czech Open preparations, what awaits the Czech players after this tournament?

At the beginning of July, I'm going on a world tour to Uganda with Jan Matoušek, a wheelchair user. After that, we are preparing a larger Czech expedition to the European Championship, which takes place in August in the Netherlands. This year we are also looking forward to tournaments in Poland (2nd Silesia Parabadminton Cup and Polish Open) and for the first time in Slovakia. In addition, we will hold training sessions before all major events. In the summer, there will traditionally be an open concentration in Brno for all interested parties from the Czech Republic, as well as from abroad. Last year, the Poles accepted the invitation, but historically the Austrians have also trained with us.

Finally, I would like to thank all partners. The patronage of the championship was granted by the chairman of the Czech Badminton Association Petr Martinec, chairman of the Czech Paralympic Committee Bc. Zbyněk Sýkora, MBA, rector of Charles University prof. MD Milena Králíčková, Ph.D., dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport doc. PhDr. Miroslav Petr, Ph.D., Prime Minister of the Czech Republic prof. PhDr. Petr Fiala, Ph.D., LL.M., Mr. Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Ing. Jan Bartošek and the councilor of the capital city of Prague Mgr. et Mgr. Antonín Klecanda, MBA. Sponsors of the event are Oliver sport, BDO, Eurovia, Chládek a Tintěra, CanoCar Handy, UniPloty, Teamcaffe, Pivovary Lobkowicz.

Author: Vojtěch Šelong, Czech Badminton Federation