The Sudirman Cup is the World Mixed Team Championships which takes place every two years. The Sudirman Cup is a test of the all-round strength of a team. There are five matches in every tie: Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles.
Dick Sudirman, in whose honour the Sudirman Cup was instituted, was one of the founders of PBSI 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.
Although his contributions to badminton were vast, he is most remembered for his pivotal role in helping the unification of the world governing body. In February of 1978, a breakaway group from the IBF, called World Badminton Federation, was formed, and for a while, two circuits ran in parallel. Badminton’s Olympic aspirations were in danger, but efforts at reconciliation had hit several roadblocks.
Sudirman had friends in both world bodies and initiated an informal meeting in Bandung between leaders of the two federations on 28 May 1979. He proposed the setting up of a working study group comprising leading figures of the two federations to find a way out of the impasse. He also suggested friendly matches between players of the two federations. His proposals were accepted and formed the basis for a reconciliation effort. Exactly two years later, on 28 May 1981, the two world bodies were united.
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, but on alternate years.
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.
Created in honour of Dick Sudirman, the trophy is made of 22-carat gold-plated solid silver. Standing 80 cm high, it stands on an octagonal base made of the finest 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 USD 15,000 when it was presented to International Badminton Federation in May 1989.
The first Sudirman Cup was played at Bung Karno Stadium in Indonesia from 24 to 29 May 1989 with 28 participating teams. It proved to be greatly popular with players and fans, and by the eighth edition, it had built up sufficient momentum to be staged as a stand-alone 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 events but one from 1995 to 2015 (Korea interrupted China’s reign in 2005).
China were again favourites in 2017 but were surprised by a Korean team with several inexperienced youngsters in a tense final in Gold Coast. The 3-2 win for Korea gave them their fourth Sudirman Cup title.