India badminton players PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, amongst others, haven’t had the best of starts to 2020 but with plenty of big-ticket tournaments coming up, they still have a good shot at booking a place for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
With the BWF rankings list, which will determine the number of shuttlers India can send at the 2020 Olympics, scheduled to be released on April 30, the upcoming tournaments will be crucial for the India badminton players to improve their positions.
A total of 172 slots are available for qualification in badminton over five events – men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles – at Tokyo 2020.
How badminton players qualify for Olympics
The singles category will have 38 competitors each in the men’s and women’s events with every nation allowed to send a maximum of two players each in both the events, provided both the players are in the world’s top 16 in the BWF Olympic Qualification rankings list.
In case a nation misses both the berths of the direct qualification (top 16 rankings), it can then get a second chance to qualify in the remaining 22 places until the roster of 38 players is met.
For the doubles, the rule is the same barring the fact that a pair must be in the list of top eight of the BWF rankings for direct qualification, while the total roster gets reduced to 32 here as opposed to singles’ roster of 38.
The BWF Olympic Qualification will be taking numerous big-tickets and minor tournaments into account to offer ranking points for the Olympics. The tournaments include Thomas & Uber Cup, Sudirman Cup, World Championships, Grade 2 BWF tour tournaments – Levels 1 to 6, Grade 3 BWF Continental tour tournaments, Continental Championships (individual and team), Continental multisports games and many others.
As far as probabilities of Indian shuttlers qualifying for the 2020 Olympics go, India’s no.1 badminton player PV Sindhu remains at the top.
The 24-year-old 2016 Olympics silver medallist is currently sixth on the BWF rankings list (updated on January 28, 2020-week 5) and is eligible for the direct qualification quota of the 2020 Olympics, if the rankings remain the same until April 30, 2020.
Playing 14 events in the scheduled period, PV Sindhu has garnered 67,754 points averaging 4,839 points per tournament. Further helping her cause is Japan’s fifth-placed Akane Yamaguchi, who will be getting host NOC’s automatic qualification quota.
Barring PV Sindhu, the second and only remaining hope for India in this event is Saina Nehwal. Currently 22nd on the BWF Olympic Qualification ranking list, the 2012 bronze medallist has 39,437 points from 13 events.
Saina Nehwal averages 3,003 points and will have to gain significant points in the upcoming tournaments to gain direct qualification.
Having big tournaments like All England Open, Malaysia Open and Singapore Open coming up before April 30, which have 12,000, 11,000 and 9,200 points to offer respectively, Saina Nehwal still has enough to fight for.
B Sai Praneeth tops the Indian men’s shuttlers’ race for direct qualification. Sitting 11th on the BWF Olympic Qualification table with 48,430 points from 15 events, the 27-year-old is well in with a chance for an Olympic quota. He averages 3,228 points and with many big tournaments in line, he is pretty much a surety.
Kidambi Srikanth, a 2016 Olympian, is way below in the pecking order as far as the BWF Olympic Qualification ranking list is concerned. Sitting 26th on the list, Kidambi Srikanth has collected 36,820 from 12 events.
World no. 21 Sourabh Verma (38,610) and world no. 22 Parupalli Kashyap (38,240) sit slightly above the former world no. 1, which hints at Indian men shuttlers intense competition for the one remaining direct qualification spot.
India’s doubles scene isn’t as optimistic as the singles players. While the men’s duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy is ranked seventh on the BWF Olympic Qualification ranking table, they could be India’s only doubles pair qualifying for the Games.
While the women’s doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy is ranked 30th, the mixed doubles duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy sit 31st on the mixed doubles ranking list, which makes their qualification very difficult.