MOSCOW, February 5 (R-Sport) - Evidence that badminton can correct eyesight deterioration from office computers will help its popularity spread throughout the world and anchor its place at the Olympics, a Russian official said Tuesday.
The National Badminton Federation of Russia says a national two-year study of the sport's effect in strengthening eye muscles has yielded impressive results, and helped introduce it to the sports curriculum in Russian schools.
The study was met with enthusiasm by the Badminton World Federation, which is currently considering promoting Russia's "Badminton and Vision" program among its member federations.
"If they accept it, and the program is developed, then there will be no need to worry about whether there will be badminton at the Olympics after Rio de Janeiro," said Sergei Shakhrai, the president of the Russian Badminton Federation.
"This is a worldwide project. It's something that's really worth working toward."
Badminton, the world's fastest racket sport, was first made a part of the Olympics at Barcelona 1992; it had featured as a demonstration event in Munich in 1972.
It is wildly popular in Asia and parts of Europe but still arises as a possible make-way when discussion of new inclusions is aired.
Squash is mooted as the biggest threat to badminton at the 2020 Games, to be hosted in Istanbul, Tokyo or Madrid.
That sport could capitalize on the negative press that badminton received at the London 2012 Games, when four women's doubles pairs attempted to lose matches in order to get an easier draw later in the tournament.
Karate, wakeboarding and climbing are all lobbying to get on the Olympic program too; a decision is expected from the International Olympic Committee in September.
However, badminton could get a boost from Russia's rising standing in world sport as host of the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2018 World Cup, said Andrei Antropov, the chairman of the Russian badminton federation.
"Why does everyone want to work with us? Because they see that in Russia big changes are happening," Antropov said.