Smashing side events make Malaysia Open a fun affair

Some badminton fans at the Malaysia Festival, outside Axiata Arena.

The demographics of badminton fans seem to have changed in the past two years.

In the past, older fans flocked to the stadium to watch the action, and nothing else. Many also played the game.

These days, those in their late teens, 20s, and 30s, make up the majority of spectators. And as strange as it sounds, many are not even fans of the game.

These newer supporters are fans of the players – thanks to social media – and are willing to pay good money to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars.

That might explain why season tickets were snapped up like hot cakes.

They do not mind queuing up for a long time for the many meet-and-greet sessions held during the ongoing Malaysia Open.

As they are not ‘hardcore badminton fans’, the side shows outside the stadium are a welcome distraction.

Having said that, you cannot accuse them of being unpatriotic, as during Lee Zii Jia’s match on Thursday, the booths outside Axiata Arena were practically deserted.

Some ‘fans’ like Kenneth, whom I spoke to a few days ago, supports all things South Korean. And he decided to watch the tournament to see if any South Korean would win a title.

Several media friends, who covered the Badminton Asia Team Championships in Shah Alam in February, said the “newer” fans treat the players more like celebrities.

“It does not matter if they win or lose, they treat them like movie stars,” said freelance journalist Tan Ming Wai.

Another freelance journalist, Nicolas Anil, said: “Some of them freak out or appear possessed when they get an autograph. Their reactions are quite comical.”

To cater to the non-badminton fans, there is a Malaysia Festival, which features an array of activities, such as ‘live’ music, fashion shows, dance and cultural performances, and even a wide array of food, including durian. There is even a non-halal section.

These attractions are a welcome sight.

It can take forever to get out of the parking lot, and I prefer to sit under the stars, sipping my coffee and listening to ‘live’ music, while waiting for the traffic to subside.

Like most things these days, parking is expensive – RM10 per entry. The usual parking fee in Bukit Jalil is RM2, or RM5 during events.

The food, however, is reasonably priced, with waffles with ice cream and strawberries going for RM15.

This morning, I travelled ‘back in time’ as I got to witness Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Peter Gade, Taufik Hidayat and Lee Yong-dae play an exhibition match before the semifinals.

Each legend partnered two young children, and they took turns playing against trios made up of Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) players and other youngsters.

The Malaysia Open has shown many sports associations how to host sporting events.

OVER 2,000 CASES IN SIX OF THE LAST SEVEN DAYS

There were 16,469 new Covid-19 cases in the country in the past week, taking the total to 4,568,828.

Worryingly, there were over 2,000 cases in six of the last seven days.

The good news is that 14,473 patients recovered from the coronavirus, taking recoveries to 4,502,840.

There were another 26 fatalities, meaning 35,771 people have died from the virus.

Worldwide, there are 553,704,891 cases and 6,360,122 fatalities.

COINCIDENCE?

A month ago, I related how difficult it was to open a bank account for my son. We are still waiting for an answer.

It may just be a coincidence, but since passing my contact details to the bank, I have received several “strange” calls from mobile phone numbers registered in Sarawak.

One claimed that my package could not be delivered and that I had to pay a fine. Another was about my Citibank credit card bill – err, I do not have such a card.

Hopefully, the next call I receive from a Sarawak-registered mobile number will be from the bank, granting my son a savings account.

Residents waiting to renew parking stickers
Residents waiting to renew parking stickers,

FIRST-WORLD PROBLEMS

It is that time of the month … we had to renew our parking sticker in our apartment. It is usually a formality, but for the second car sticker, some residents queued up as early as 4.30am!

The office only opens at 9am.

My sister was there at 6am and managed to get the parking sticker.

However, we learnt that yesterday, four days after the ‘deadline’, there were still several stickers available.

GREEK-STYLE ICED COFFEE

For something different this week, here is a recipe for a Greek-style iced coffee.

BEATLES GO BAROQUE

If you are a fan of The Beatles and classical music, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra has a treat for you.

On July 16, it will present ‘Beatles Go Baroque’, a collection of Beatles ‘concertos’ reset for chamber orchestra by composer Peter Breiner.

To end this week’s Diary, we have The Fab Four’s ‘She Loves You’ in the style of George Frideric Handel.