(Photo: Badminton Europe)
Badminton won this time in Finland
Date: 11/9/2020 3:45 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The 2020 European Junior Championships successfully took place and came to a close on Saturday in Lahti, Finland. Badminton Europe Deputy General Secretary, Jimmy Andersen shares his thoughts on how the event was delivered and received. 

The 11-day badminton tournament, which includes the team and individual event, was able to go ahead despite the many tournament cancellations and challenges around the global pandemic. The safe participation of the players, coaches and staff were paramount. Jimmy Andersen, who himself was at the event, is delighted that it was not cancelled and went ahead, acknowledging the pivotal role various stakeholders played in this. 

-I am extremely proud and pleased that we were able to conduct the European Junior Championships in Finland. It was not possible without the willingness of our Member Associations. It was a risk going there to travel under these circumstances. What they did at the Pajulahti Sports Institute and what we managed to do; I think it was the right decision to go ahead. 

A badminton event on such a scale taking place in Europe under heavy restrictions is symbolic of badminton standing strong together, echoing this sentiment, Jimmy Andersen stated. 

-I am pleased and proud especially for the sake of badminton and the young players who got the opportunity to play in this event. 

Many of these players are in their final years as a junior and even mentioned in post-match interviews that they are very grateful they were able to compete. The players, coaches and staff benefitted from a set-up in Finland that was particularly professional. The facilities were excellent, allowing a good flow of training, set meal times and testing which adhered to the strict guidelines in place. The private hospital came to the venue to conduct COVID-19 testing. During the event, there were two positive cases. Jimmy Andersen comments on this and the efficient pre-planned action taken.

-We had two positive cases, however as they were isolated before the test was done, and then immediately isolated even further after the positive case was confirmed, it was very safe for the rest of the players and participants in the tournament to be there. It was handled very professionally by the Finnish organisers. 

- It was unfortunate for the two delegations that had positive cases, but they were very well looked after, Jimmy Andersen added. 

Lessons learnt
With all sports having to adapt to playing under these challenging times, it is a constant learning curve. Jimmy Andersen speaks about what badminton can learn from this and how it is imperative to introduce a culture of sharing these experiences with others. 

-We have learnt that we can do it. It is not easy, but if you want to you can do it. If badminton in the near future needs to have more tournaments, we can definitely share our knowledge and experiences. The same goes for Latvia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany and most recently in Portugal who have organised tournaments. The message is that it is possible and we need to share our experiences, as we need badminton tournaments, otherwise it will be a big problem for the development of our young players coming up. They need tournaments!

A look to the future
When asked a question many fans will be asking; whether more tournaments will be played in 2021, Jimmy Andersen remains positive. 

-I hope so. We will already now initiate talks with organisers of tournaments in 2021 and look at how we can accommodate these together in relation to COVID-19, but also financially, as there will be additional financial restraints on organisers because of the testing. Therefore, we will be looking at initiatives around how we can support our Member Associations as best as possible, both financially and know-how.

Return to Finland 
The Energia Areena in Vantaa, Finland, will be the venue which will host the finals of the 2021 European Mixed Team Championships on 16-20 February 2021. There is now even great confidence moving towards this tournament, as Jimmy Andersen explains. 

-I am very positive and confident that we can go ahead with this event as well. Of course, you can say it is a bigger event because the biggest stars will be going, but it is a smaller event in terms of the number of players and officials. We now know we can do it together with the Finnish organisers. The Member Associations taking part all had teams going to Finland these past weeks, so they too know that it can be done and will be more confident now than before the European Juniors.  

With the final words on what was an entertaining and exciting European Junior Championships, Jimmy Andersen simply says. 

-The ones attending will have left with a positive opinion and I think badminton has won this time and I am pleased that we managed to pull this one off. 

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