Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Odesa and Dnipro – these are the five cities that the Ukrainian Badminton Federation has chosen to name badminton courts after them at the World Ranking Badminton Tournament “Yonex Latvia International”, which will be held in Jelgava from September 1 to 4, where 219 players from 35 countries will compete in 5 badminton disciplines.
In the explanation sent by the Ukrainian Badminton Federation, it is stated that the selected cities are those which are also known in the badminton world, but now the badminton life in them has been stopped by the war. “Yes, if we are speaking of the memory, perhaps it should have been highlighted cities like Mariupol, Bucha, Kherson or Chernihiv, but then it would only be a political message, unrelated to the Ukrainian badminton community and less suitable for a badminton tournament in Latvia,” says Kristians Rozenvalds, tournament director of “Yonex Latvia International”.
According to the list sent by the Badminton Federation of Ukraine, the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, has been selected as the first because it was also the first target of aggression. The National Badminton Center established in Kyiv has stopped its activities, while the leading athletes were forced to flee abroad.
Kharkiv has been designated as the hometown of many Ukrainian players, which has now lost almost all of its sports facilities to Russian missile attacks. It is significant that the World Ranking tournament was supposed to take place in Kharkiv the week after the Jelgava tournament.
Mykolaiv is the city where the Ukrainian juniors were based until now, most of them currently live and train in Kaunas, but those who remained live with constant air attacks, water and electricity supply problems.
Odesa was chosen as a beautiful city by the sea with a charming atmosphere and an active badminton community, now forced to exchange badminton halls for shelters.
Dnipro used to be a city with one of the biggest new sports halls, where many national badminton championships and tournaments were organized, but now all that has been stopped.
“When we can hold a tournament, but the next tournament scheduled in the world calendar cannot take place because of the war, it seems obvious to me that we should honour Ukraine and its victimised cities and badminton centres in our tournament in Latvia,” says the tournament director of “Yonex Latvia International” Kristians Rozenvalds.
Naming courts after Ukrainian cities is not the only social activity of “Yonex Latvia International” related to Ukraine this year. In all three Latvian international World and European ranking tournaments, Ukrainian players will enter free of charge, will be accommodated for free in cooperation with municipalities and fed in cooperation with tournament sponsors. These conditions are equally relevant to the European U17 ranking tournament “Yonex Latvia U17”, in Liepaja, from August 11 to 13, the World ranking badminton tournament “Yonex Latvia International”, in Jelgava, from September 1 to 4, and the World junior ranking tournament “Yonex Latvia Junior”, Sigulda, from November 11 to 13.
The president of the Ukrainian Badminton Federation, Oleksiy Dniprov, expressed his sincere gratitude for the following gesture of support: “Our federation is grateful to all our friends from Latvia for supporting players from Ukraine, giving professional athletes the most important thing – the opportunity to continue playing badminton. Since February 24th, we have been primarily focused on humanitarian aid for our players. Of course, it is very important to meet the basic needs – to find a place for our players to sleep, to ensure that they have food. But badminton is an important part of their daily life, so I’m sure they appreciate the opportunity to play in major professional tournaments.”
“Badminton society does a lot for Ukraine, but we will be grateful if other countries take an example from Latvia and support our players. We invite the whole world to show the unity and mutual support of the badminton family. And after the victory, we will gladly welcome all our friends to Ukraine!” – summed up Oleksiy Dniprov.