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IN THE season of scams, here comes one which can even put the controversy related to the laying of synthetic courts at the RK Khanna Stadium to shame.

The latest in the con games that this Commonwealth Games has come to be synonymous with deals with the procurement of 26 hova courts ( also known as Yonex Sky Courts) for the Siri Fort Sports Complex, the venue of the badminton event.

In this case no tendering was carried out and the contract was handed over to the Japanese badminton manufacturing giant, Yonex. This despite several companies being available to do the job and some would have taken lesser amount than what was paid to the Japanese company.

It is learnt that Yonex was given the contract on the recommendation of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee ( OC), which in turn went by the Badminton Association of India's ( BAI) instruction.

For the record, each of these hova courts cost ` 6 lakh and the bill for the 26 courts was a whopping ` 1.56 crore.

" I can tell you with certainty that there were a couple of international companies who would have done the job for a much lower price.

" But due to the lack of a proper tendering process, those companies never got the chance to bid with Yonex," a source told M AIL T ODAY . Incidentally, Yonex is the official equipment suppliers to BAI. It has been acting in this capacity since 1999.

So, it comes as little surprise that Yonex was awarded the contract to lay the hova courts without any opposition.

In fact, in the minutes of the sports ministry, which lays down the procurement of materials for the various disciplines of the Commonwealth Games, it is clearly mentioned that for laying of the badminton court, ' only the Yonex badminton court was considered as a single proprietary item.' It is really strange how one company got the monopoly to lay these courts, whereas in other disciplines there were two to three companies who had been shortlisted.

When queried, BAI president V. K. Verma confirmed that no tendering had taken place before awarding the contract to Yonex.

" There was no question of inviting tenders to lay the courts as the World Badminton Federation ( BWF) clearly stipulates that Yonex has the sole right to lay courts in all the top events of the world. These include the Olympics, Asian and Commonwealth Games," Verma said.

But a look at the official BWF website ( www. internationalbadminton.

org) throws up a different story.

Under the section of flooring, it lists 18 companies which the world body recognise for laying of hova courts ( see box above ).

So when the BAI president says Yonex is the only approved court laying company recognised by the BWF, he is either ill- informed or there could be something more to it than what meets the eye.

A former India shuttler said a number of brands apart from Yonex are laying the hova courts around the world.

" In countries such as China they are using courts made by manufacturers such as Li Ning. It is less expensive compared to Yonex and also the courts are much more durable," said the player.

Another player, who is a regular on the international circuit, said the Yonex hova courts have lost their quality. " They don't seem to be producing the type of courts they used to in the past."

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Aug 6, 2010
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