By Duncan Mackay

Poul-Erik Høyer-Larsen head and shouldersMarch 6 - Denmark's Poul-Erik Høyer appears to be the clear favourite to be the new President of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) after a record 52 countries officially seconded his candidature. 

The 1996 Olympic men's singles champion is due to take on Dato Sri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, President of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), and Indonesia's Justian Suhandinata at the BWF annual meeting in Kuala Lumpur on May 18.

They will be seeking to replace BWF President Dr. Kang Young Joong of South Korea, who last December announced his decision not to seek a third term in office.

"I am grateful for the support shown by so many member associations who are rallying for the same values and the objectives I set forward for the sport of badminton in the future," said Høyer, the 47-year-old President of Badminton Europe.

"I am especially pleased that member associations from around the world are showing

"This is extremely encouraging and gives me even more enthusiasm to rally for the

Poul-Erik Høyer-Larson Atlanta 1996Poul-Erik Høyer-Larson on his way to the Olympic gold medal at Atlanta 1996

Høyer has announced that Peru's Gustavo Salazar Delgado, President of Badminton Pan Am, will be his running mate for the election where 169 countries will be eligible to vote.

"To set the new path for BWF is certainly a team effort and I am pleased that Gustavo Salazar Delgado has agreed to stand as deputy President next to me," said Høyer. 

"He brings a wealth of experience, not in the least in the development area and we
share many of the same values.

"Furthermore the [Rio] 2016 Olympic Games will be held within his Confederation and we must invest in building the region over the coming years.

"The support received from Badminton Oceania has been especially pleasing and we
certainly share the same views on how to improve our sport."

"The dialogue with our friends in Badminton Confederation of Africa has been good so far
and I look forward to visiting Africa and develop that dialogue directly with the member
associations in Africa."

If Høyer wins, he will be the first President of badminton's world governing body to be from Europe since it adopted its current idenity in 2006 and the first non-Asian since 1993, when Britain's Arthur Jones held the role.

He would also be the first Dane to hold the position since Poul-Erik Nielsen, winner of three consecutive All-England titles between 1958 and 1960, who had the role between 1984 and 1986.

Nielsen had replaced Britain's Sir Craig Reedie, who had spearheaded the successful campaign to get badminton into the Olympics and is now a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.

With another Dane, Thomas Lund, already secretary general it would give the Scandinavian country considerable influence in a sport whose power-base is rooted firmly in Asia, particularly China.

Høyer has already promised that he will not relocate the BWF's headquarters from Kuala Lumpur, where it has been based since 2005 after moving from Cheltenham in England. 

"If elected, I am committed to ensure that Badminton Asia will continue to play a central role in the administration and governance of our sport," said Høyer.

"That is only fair considering the strong position our sport enjoys in major parts of Asia.

"Contrary to what is being rumored, I have at this moment no intentions to move our sport's headquarters away from Kuala Lumpur.

"I am happy to see many strong Asian nominations for Council positions and I would be pleased to work with many of the people who put themselves forward.

"I definitely believe that with the support of all continental confederations, we are stronger
and that we need to embrace our differences to find new and innovative ways to improve our

London 2012 badminton rowBadminton needs to rebuilt its reputation after the "match-fixing" at London 2012 which left some fearing for the sport's Olympic future

Badminton was rocked by a scandal at the Olympics in London last year when four doubles pairs were disqualified for throwing matches to try to ensure themselves an easier draw in the next round.

It had lead to fears that the sport's place among the core Olympic sports may have been in danger after Rio 2016, but in the end wrestling was controversially axed last month by the IOC's ruling Executive board.

"We all need to pull in the same direction to ensure that badminton stays competitive
amongst other Olympic sports," said Høyer.

"We all compete for media, spectators, and sponsors - and fundamentally for more people to play our sport.

"Once the new BWF Council is in place in May our focus must be on continuous development of badminton worldwide and on strengthening our position within the world of sports."

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