Aviva is becoming one of the few big corporations here to sponsor sports events in a big way and hot on the heels of its support for the F1 Powerboat Grand Prix 2004 over the weekend, it is now coming forward with US$170,000 to replace Yonex-Sunrise as the main sponsor for the 5-star Singapore Open this year. This is great news for Singapore badminton when more companies are willing to compete for sponsorship and our fans here will again be able to witness top-class badminton played by many of the world's best players from Nov 15 - 21. Do come by for a visit during that time as it is still relatively warm weather here and I just read that Singapore has now been promoted from 9th position to the No.1 city in the world by travellers, on account of its cleanliness and easy transportation. I might add safety as one of the reasons. I append a report from today's Straits Times for your info: SEPT 21, 2004 BADMINTON Susilo, Li Li set sights on Aviva Open By Marc Lim FORGET the US, German and even the five-star Denmark Open. Singapore's best hopes for the Aviva Open Singapore - Ronald Susilo and Li Li - have been given permission to skip a hectic month on the road in order to rest and prime themselves for the five-star US$170,000 (S$288,000) event at the Singapore Badminton Hall and the Singapore Indoor Stadium from Nov 15 to 21. Li Li and Susilo, who both competed at last month's Athens Olympics, will return to competitive action at the China Open only on Nov 9, but their priority will still be the Aviva Open. As Singapore Badminton Association president Lim Swee Say, who is Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for National Development, said at a press conference yesterday: 'We expect them to be in good form throughout the year, but for the Aviva Open, we want them to be in peak condition.' The tournament has become an important fixture in Singapore's sports calendar, with attendances increasing from 12,000 in 2001 to 23,000 last year. And part of the reason is the fine form showed by Singapore's shuttlers - especially Susilo, who lost in the 2002 final and last year's quarter-finals to China's Chen Hong. 'The tournament is special to me because of all the support that the fans have given us,' said Susilo, who bowed out in the quarter-finals of the Olympics despite beating world No 1 Lin Dan in the first round. 'It's been a hectic season for us and the rest will do us good. We want to be able to give our best in front of our home crowd.' The world's top players are expected to be at the Aviva Open, with ranking points for next year's World Championships in California up for grabs. As for Li Li, who lost to world No 1 Gong Ruina in the first round in Athens, she will be looking forward to stepping up a gear after competing mainly in satellite tournaments previously, while trying to earn Olympic qualifying points. 'It will be a tough challenge,' said Li Li, who won the Cheers Asian Satellite Badminton Championships last week. 'But I am keen to test myself against the top players again.' For sponsor Aviva, the tournament will be its first foray into badminton, after previously sponsoring the Asian Bowling Tour and last weekend's UIM Formula One Powerboat Championship. Said Aviva Asia Pte Ltd managing director Charles Andersen: 'We feel that badminton reaches out more to the grassroots and also that the sponsorship comes at a timely moment, with the Singapore players playing well.' The insurance company has also been hit by 'Susilo fever' since it announced it would sponsor the Singapore Open this year. More than 10 of its staff were at the National Stadium during the press conference yesterday to meet the player.