Kathmandu, June 12:

Nepal Badminton Association (NBA) today announced the 24-member squad for the Bajaj Discover International Badminton Series to be held from June 18-22 here at the National Sports Council Covered Hall.

Nepal have decided to field 15 male shuttlers — Balram Thapa, Ram Singh Chaudhary, Pankaj Chand, Indra Mahata, Bikash Shrestha, Bishal Pradhan, Anil Lakhe, Jitendra Sharma, Navaraj Joshi, Surya Bahadur Thapa, Sahadev Khadka, Raju Paneru, Sajan Krishna Tamrakar, Rajan Siwakoti and Prajwol Jung Rana — in the $5,000 prize-money event.

The women players are Saradevi Tamang, Sujana Shrestha, Nary Thapa, Samjhana Khaling, Puja Shrestha, Sushmita Gurung, Sabina Panthi, Mina Shrestha and Nangjala Devi Tamang. All the 24 players are currently at closed camp under chief coach Uday Kumar Shrestha and his two assistants Sudip Yonjon and Kiran Thapa.

The NBA, on May 18, had announced a total total of 84 players from 11 Asian countries would take part in the event, recognised by Badminton World Federation (BWF) and supported by Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC) and National Sports Council (NSC). But the number of players decreased to 59. Only India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan have confirmed their registration.

“Due to the Olympic selection, countries like Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Iran, Singapore and Korea pulled out of the event,” said Prakash Bahadur Shahi, President of Nepal Badminton Association. He also informed India are sending the full-strength team including top player Chetan Anand.

The tournament features five events — men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles. “The tournament is important for us as the points earned in this competition will affect the world ranking,” said Shahi. The NBA also informed that Bajaj Discover will be the title sponsor for the event. “The sponsors have given us Rs 200,000 in cash and they will spend the same amount of money in advertisements and other promotional activities,” Shahi added.

“We know badminton is not a popular sport here and it does not have much viewers. But we decided to go with it as part of our social responsibility,” said Raju Bhetwal Chhetri, General Manager at Bajaj.