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March 17, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - The 1998 Thomas and Uber Cups Finals, the sport of badminton's equivalent of soccer's World Cup Finals, will be held as scheduled from May 17 to May 24 in Hong Kong. This was the decision reached by the International Badminton Federation at a special meeting of its top officers held last week in England.

The holding of the Finals as scheduled had been in jeopardy for several months because of the collapse of the Indonesian currency and the technical bankruptcy of the Indonesia-based corporation that signed up as the major sponsor of the 1998 Finals. The federation had in fact considered postponing the Finals and there was even some talk of the 1998 Finals being cancelled.

At the special meeting, the Asian members of the federation' executive led the move to hold the Finals as scheduled. The championships though will be under severe budgetary limits. Teams will have to pay their own way to Hong Kong and the organizers will have to borrow much of the supporting equipment that will be needed. Additionally, the Hong Kong association will make more use of unpaid volunteers.

The federation also has received sponsorship commitments from other companies organizations, and, although none of these are of the amount that had been committed to by the former sponsor, these sponsorship moneys should be enough for the federation to stage a frill-free Finals without taking a financial bath.

The federation executive also has decided that the Super Seven series of tournaments with minimum purses of 250,000 US dollar each will not make its debut in 1999. The federation will wait for the economies in Asia to be on the road to recovery before it decides on a new launch date.

New Shuttlenws has also learned that the Indonesian Open may not be held this year due to Indonesia's economic woes and that the Malaysian Open will be a four-star event, instead of a six-star tournament.

The U.S. Open is also in jeopardy and could be downgraded to a one or two star event. The U.S. Open's major sponsor was an Indonesian-based business which is also being impacted by the economic problems in Asia. The business and one of its key executives are also subjects in the investigation of 1996 U.S. election fundraising violations and both have reduced their presence in the U.S.A.