Dick Sudirman, in whose honour the Sudirman Cup was instituted, was one of the founders of PBSI (Badminton Association of Indonesia) and its president for 22 years.
He earned respect worldwide as an administrator with PBSI and with other governing bodies such as Asian Badminton Confederation and International Badminton Federation (IBF, now BWF).
Following Sudirman’s death from a stroke on 10 June 1986, his long-time friend and PBSI vice-president Suharso Suhandinata wrote to IBF President Arthur Jones recalling Sudirman’s contributions to badminton. (Suhandinata, in fact, had visited Sudirman the night before his death.)
In that letter of August 1986, Suhandinata suggested that something tangible be initiated in Sudirman’s memory, and asked if IBF would consider Indonesia’s proposal for a competition to be instituted in his name.
The idea was brought up for discussion at the IBF Council meeting by Arthur Jones in 1986. By 1988 the IBF was convinced of the possibility of holding a World Mixed Team Championships and accepted the Indonesian offer of the trophy.
As the calendar was tight, the IBF Council decided that the Sudirman Cup be staged in conjunction with the World Championships.
The Sudirman Cup, like the other major trophies in badminton such as the Thomas Cup, the Uber Cup and the Suhandinata Cup, is an exceptional piece of workmanship; it brings together elements of badminton and the cultural heritage of Indonesia – the country that donated the trophy.
The trophy was designed by Rusnandi, a student at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Bandung Technology Institute. Created in honour of Dick Sudirman, the trophy is made of 22-carat gold-plated solid silver. Standing 80cm high, it stands on an octagonal base made of solid jati wood. The body of the cup is shaped like a shuttlecock, while the lid is designed after Indonesia’s world-famous Borobudur Temple.
The handles are shaped like stamens, symbolising the seeds of badminton. The trophy was made by the Masterix Bandung Company and cost US$15,000 when it was presented to IBF in May 1989.
The first Sudirman Cup was played at Bung Karno Stadium in Indonesia from 24-29 May 1989 with 28 participating teams. It proved greatly popular with players and fans, and by the eighth edition, it had built up sufficient momentum to be staged as a standalone event.
The event has been held every two years since 1989.
Indonesia won the inaugural edition at
home – the one and only time they’ve taken the title. Korea emerged champions in the next two editions, followed by China, who won all but two editions from 1995 to 2021 (Korea interrupted China’s reign in 2003 and 2017).