Badminton Preview

This preview reflects info from July 2019. Due to disruptions from COVID-19, and the postponement of the Olympic Games to 2021, these storylines may have changed. For media looking for more recent information, please reach out to the sport’s press officer here

Heading into the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, USA Badminton will look to capture its first medal since badminton became an Olympic sport in 1992. Badminton continues to be an ever-growing sport in the U.S. and that gives promise for a run to the podium in 2020. With many athletes ranked among the best in region, the U.S. is prepared to send more athletes than ever before to the Tokyo Games. At the Games, badminton consists of a single-elimination tournament. Each match is played to the best of three games, with 21 points each. In singles, the top-eight players are seeded according to the world rankings. In doubles, the top-four pairs are seeded. All competitions will have a group phase followed by playoffs to reach the finals.

Beiwen Zhang stands tall as the U.S.’s best chance for the podium in 2020, and perhaps the U.S.’s best chance in the history of the sport at the Olympic Games. Zhang is seeking her first Olympic experience and currently ranked 11th in the world in women’s singles. She has captured multiple titles over the last few years in some of the world’s largest tournaments, putting herself in position for an Olympic medal.

Phillip Chew will look to make his second straight Olympic team competing in men’s doubles, but this time around would be extra special, as his playing partner is his brother, Ryan Chew. The brothers went undefeated at the Pan American Mixed Team Continental Championships in Peru in February 2019 and helped the U.S. earn second place at the championships.

Additionally, 2016 Rio Olympians Howard Shu and Paula Lynn Obanana will look to compete in a new discipline in Tokyo. Shu played in men’s singles in 2016, while Obanana competed in women’s doubles. The duo is among the region’s highest-ranked in mixed doubles heading into 2020.

Beiwen Zhang is the highest-ranked American player in recent history and stands as the best chance to make history and make the podium at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 

2000 Olympian Eti Gunawan, who has taken over as the director of high performance and coaching, looks to push USA Badminton to the next level at the 2020 Olympics. 

Beiwen Zhang

Zhang (Las Vegas, Nev.) is ranked world No. 11 in women’s singles and has shown great potential and has her eyes set on Tokyo 2020 as the U.S.’s top Olympic hopeful. 

Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew 

Phillip (Orange, Calif.) and Ryan (Orange, Calif.) are ranked world No. 53 in men’s doubles. Phillip will look to make his second straight Olympic team, while Ryan looks to make his Olympic debut.

Howard Shu and Paula Lynn Obanana

Shu (Orange County, Calif.) competed at Rio 2016 in men’s singles, while Obanana (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) competed in women’s doubles. Now competing together in mixed doubles, Shu and Obanana are ranked world No. 67 and look to return to their second straight Olympic Games in Tokyo.


In accordance with the Badminton World Federation qualification system for Tokyo 2020, the BWF world ranking list for each respective event as of April 28, 2020, will be used to allocate quota places in men’s and women’s singles, and men’s, women’s and mixed doubles. Each list will be based on results achieved during the Olympic qualification period of April 29, 2019, to April 26, 2020. 


Participation in any of the following events will count towards the respective world ranking lists during the qualification period: the Thomas & Uber Cup, the Sudirman Cup, world championships, grade 2 and grade 3 BWF Tour tournaments, continental championships, continental multi-sports Games and any other international event sanctioned by the BWF.

  • July 29, 2019 – Pan American Games Lima 2019
  • August 19, 2019 – TOTAL BWF World Championships 
  • February 13, 2020 – Male and Female Pan American Team Championships 2020
  • April 23, 2020 – Pan American Individual Championships 2020
  • April 28, 2020 – BWF world rankings list published
  • May 7, 2020 – BWF to inform National Olympic Committees of allocated quotas
  • July 6, 2020 – BWF to reallocate all unused quota places