The game of Badminton is a racket sport played generally by two (one player per side or singles) or four (two players per side or doubles), although there are instances where more players can be involved. A racket is used to hit a shuttlecock over a net and points are scored when the shuttlecock lands in the opponent’s half. Badminton is formally played indoors on a rectangular court, but can also feature outdoors where the sport is played more casually. A player can strike the shuttlecock only once before it passes over the net and play is ended once the shuttlecock hits the floor or a fault has been called by the umpire or service judge. In informal matches the shuttlecock is feathered, but for competitions it is a plastic projectile. Both types create a drag causing the shuttlecock to decelerate from a higher top speed. The flight of the shuttlecock gives badminton a very distinctive nature.
Various games involving shuttlecocks were played frequently for centuries across Eurasia, but it was not until the mid-19th century that the game originated in British India from Battledore and Shuttlecock. The name derives from the Duke of Beaufort’s Badminton House in Gloucestershire, but the reason for the name or the date remains unclear. Although initiated in England, competitive men’s badminton developed very rapidly across Europe with Denmark becoming one of the strongest nations. More recently the sport has taken off in Asia with China particularly producing some the of the best players. Badminton is officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) becoming a sport at the 1992 Summer Olympics with four events. These are women’s singles, men’s singles, women’s doubles and men’s doubles. Mixed doubles were added in 1996.
The IOC and IPC also officially recognise the Badminton World Federation (BWF) as the international governing body for the sport. BWF was originally established 1934 as the International Badminton Federation with nine members. Currently BWF have over 190 members making badminton one of the most popular sports in the world. Despite the popularity, the strategic priorities in 2020 to 2024 include Entertainment, Participation, Athletes, Partnerships and Capacity Building, further strengthening their relationships and development within existing memberships and potential new member nations. One of the core activities for BWF is to ensure access to badminton as a sport for all, with a special focus on Para Sports. Apart from an annual World Championship and Continental Championships, BWF also oversees a World Tour that starts in January and completes with a Grand Final in December.