Badminton's origins can be traced back nearly 2,000 years to Ancient Greece, where early versions of the sport were played for leisure and exercise. However, India is officially credited with the creation of badminton, as this is where poona (the version that most closely resembles modern badminton) was being played at the time. As the sport became more popular, it expanded to other regions of the world, with England, Canda, Germany, Scotland and eventually the United States all adopting their own variations of badminton.
Historians have proved unable to credit a single individual with the invention of badminton. Instead, it is widely believed that high-ranked military officers stationed in India around 1870 created the game as a way to relax and remain physically fit.
Another theory is that badminton did not officially come about until the mid-19th century, when members of the British royal family sought a new activity that required minimal equipment and little preparation/assembly time.
For a brief overview of the most important facts and events in badminton's history, be sure to check out the timeline provided below.
While the principal concept of badminton was likely established nearly 2,000 years ago, the aforementioned version from India came about between 1870-1873, with the latter date marking the creation of the first official set of rules for the sport. Modern rule adaptations were made several decades later in 1893, when the newly formed Badminton Association of England launched the first documented series of formal badminton competitions.
Badminton did not become extremely popular until the very end of the 19th century, with the first all-England badminton championships being held in England in 1899. The sport gained further popularity in 1934, as the first world governing body for the sport (the Badminton World Federation) was established to oversee all international competitions.
Badminton began to truly capture the attention of the world in 1972, when it became the latest sport to be added to the Olympic Games. Viewers were at first treated to singles (one-on-one) matches, before the slate of games was soon expanded to feature singles and doubles matches for both men and women.
Below you will find a list of countries in which badminton is most popular. The five nations that devote the most time and resources to the sport are ranked from one through five: