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Sports Minister welcomes international badminton stars to Lisburn for Olympic Qualifying tournament.Sports Minister welcomes international badminton stars to Lisburn for Olympic Qualifying tournament.

8 December, 2011 - by Carál Ní Chuilín

The Sports Minister has welcomed badminton players from 37 countries to Lisburn for a London 2012 qualifying tournament.

The 244 athletes from around the world including Europe, Malaysia and China are competing in the Yonex Irish International Badminton Championship at the Badminton Centre in Lisburn which begins today Thursday 8 December. The tournament also allows players to compete for places at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Carál Ní Chuilín said: “It is an honour for Lisburn and indeed the north to host 37 countries over the next four days for this international competition, where athletes will also compete for places for the 2012 Olympic Games.

“My Department, through Sport NI has been working with the governing bodies of sport and local councils for some time, targeting teams and athletes to visit the north for events and training in the run-up to 2012. Many of those discussions are now bearing fruit, such as this prestigious event. We also had 33 countries take part in the CP ISRA Boccia World Cup a Paralympic pre qualifying event at the University of Ulster earlier this year.

“Events like this one organised by Badminton Ireland with support from Lisburn Racquets Club, Lisburn City Council, Badminton Ireland, supported by DCAL and Sport NI bring the Games alive on our doorstep.

“Badminton is a very popular sport. As well as being played in halls up and down the country there are 13,000 affiliated players in Badminton Ireland.

“In addition, this sporting event provides a boost to the local economy – hotels across Belfast and Lisburn have received booking with a total of almost 2300 bed nights booked as a consequence of this event.”

“As we prepare to welcome the Chinese Gymnastics team, the Australian boxing team and the Paralympics Ireland team for their pre Games training camps, I would encourage communities across the north to take up the opportunity to see both our home grown talent and the visiting International stars at the top of their game.”

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