Unique tournament atmosphere despite all circumstances
It feels strange to be approaching St. Jakobshalle this week. No posters advertising the Swiss Open, no barrier tape marking the main entrance – from outside, it doesn’t even look like any event is taking place there. But if you know your way around, wearing a badge and having been told which entrance to use, there’s still a way to enter a world of badminton, even under the current circumstances.
Entering the foyer, there’s an eerie silence waiting for you – no food booths, no stringing machines are visible. But as soon as you pass through the heavy doors leading to the stands, everything feels a little more like this tournament should: The umpire’s quiet but firm announcements, the cries of the players, the squeaking of shoes now and then and of course the sound of cork on strings.
A badminton tournament without spectators does indeed seem odd, and it’s hard not to start solitary clapping after a particularly nice rally. Nevertheless, we have to focus on what’s essential at an event like this one: sports. And sports – they are certainly taking place despite all the circumstances! Players run, sweat and jump as usual, framed by the characteristic Yonex blue and green, line judges follow the shuttle’s every move as usual, clothed in their ever red shirts.
Though there’s no ice cream vendor, no prosecco bar and no cheering fans – but strong smashes, concise drops and spectacular defences are still to be seen. The Swiss Open 2021 are an event in state of exception, but thanks to the athlete’s dedication and thanks to the commitment of countless volunteers, the atmosphere feels as thrilling as it should. Let’s hope that in the following years, this unique atmosphere can one again be experienced by many a spectator.