Badminton is often seen as a quintessentially British sport and it is true that it was invented by the British. What many people fail to realize however is that Badminton was actually invented in Asia – not back home in Europe.

Early history of Badminton in India and England

During the mid 1700s, British military officers stationed in Asia developed a game based on the traditional English game of battledore and shuttlecock*. Early photographs from this period show English officers in India playing battledore and shuttlecock over a net, while the incorporation of a net into this classic game with Greek and Far East roots was unheard of in Europe.

The new game became especially popular in the British garrison town Poona (now Pune or Punya-Nagari) in western India, and for a while the name Poona was used for the town as well as for the sport. In windy or wet conditions, the shuttlecock was replaced by a ball made from wool.

When officers stationed in India retired and returned to their homeland they brought the game with them and in 1860 Isaac Spratt, a toy dealer based in London, published the booklet “Badminton Battledore – a new game” where the rules were outlined. In 1873, poona was played at a lawn party held by the Duke of Beaufort at Badminton House in Gloucester and the game henceforth became known as “the Badminton game”.

The formation of the IBF

In 1934, the International Badminton Federation (IBF) was formed by players from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada and New Zealand. In 1936, Indian joined as an affiliate, and two years later the United States also became a member.

Denmark and Asia

In Europe, badminton has traditionally been dominated by Danish players, while players from Asian countries have dominated at the world-wide competitions. Except for Denmark, all nations that have consistently produced world-class players during the last few decades are located in Asia. China has had a lot of success in both men's and women's competitions, and Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea are also considered major badminton countries.

Satellite Television Asia Region (STAR) sponsorship

1994 is often regarded as a watershed year for badminton as an international competitive sport, because this was the year when the International Badminton Federation (formerly known as BWF) inked a $20 sponsorship deal with IMG Media and Satellite Television Asia Region (STAR). STAR, an Asian TV service owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, began injecting money into the promotion and development of badminton in exchange for total exclusivity for the exploitation of the commercial and television rights to the World Grand Prix (WGP) Finals.

Asian company refuels badminton interest in the U.S.

In 1995, IBF launched the Hong Ta Shan Cup in California, an invite-only badminton tournament sponsored by Chinese tobacco company Hongtashan Group. Since then, the Hongtashan Group has begun sponsoring the US Open as well by increasing the prize money to $200 000. The boosted prize pot has turned US Open into the most valuable World Grand Prix event in the series.

Badminton in the Olympics

Badminton appeared in the 1972 and 1988 Summer Olympics as a demonstration event, but didn't become an official Summer Olympics sport until the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Gambling on badminton

Gambling on badminton is especially popular in Asia, and among people with Asian ancestry living in other parts of the world. Today, a number of large international bookmakers online offer odds for badminton competitions so you don't have to go to Asia (or Denmark!) to find someone willing to take your bet if you wish to wager on badminton.