Fans disappointed by big names pull-out from Li-Ning Open

China's world No 3 Chen Long is one of five Chinese players to skip the Li-Ning Open (Getty Images)China's world No 3 Chen Long is one of five Chinese players to skip the Li-Ning Open (Getty Images)

Badminton fans reacted with dismay to the news of five Chinese stars pulling out of the Li-Ning Singapore Open.

With less than three weeks before the tournament begins at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from 19-24 June, it has lost its star attractions from China.

Organisers announced on Friday that men's world No 3  Chen Long as well as women's world No 2 and defending champion Wang Xin have decided to withdraw from the US$200,000 (S$257,464) event.

Li Xuerui and Wang Shixian - who are 3rd and 4th respectively in the women's rankings - have also pulled out, along with former world champion Wang Lin.

While no reasons were given for the late withdrawal, the tournament's proximity to the London Olympics in July could have prompted the pull-out.

A similar situation happened in 2008 when many top shuttlers decided to give the Super Series event a miss for fear of getting injured before the Beijing Games that year.

With the world's top male player Lee Chong Wei injured and China's world No 2 Lin Dan also skipping the tournament, fans interviewed by Yahoo! Singapore said they too, are considering staying away from the event.

Undergraduate Damien Sim, 22, said most people watch the tournament for the star names, "so it makes sense that since the stars are not coming, I will not go either".

Sim's sentiments are echoed by businessman Thomas Koh. The 46-year-old, who watched last year's tournament, said he is "very disappointed" by stars' absence.

"The Li-Ning Open is our best chance of seeing the top players in action, so I am very disappointed by their no-show this year," Koh said. "But I can understand why they want to preserve themselves for the Olympics in London."

Koh added that he will "decide in a few days" whether to still buy tickets for the event.

One fan who is still planning to watch the tournament despite the stars' no-show is media coordinator Adelyn Chan, 30.

"Nothing beats watching sports live, so even though the big names are not coming, I am sure the rest of the players will still put on a good show," she explained.

Fans like Chan can still look forward to catching stars like former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, Thailand's Boonsak Ponsana, and Singapore's London-bound double pair of Shinta Mulia Sari and Yao Lei in action.