Badminton

Sukamuljo tests positive for Covid, "Minions" out of BWF World Tour restart

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo forced to withdraw from Bangkok events after latter fails to recover from coronavirus.

By ZK Goh ·

Indonesia's world top-ranked men’s doubles badminton pair Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo have withdrawn from the BWF World Tour Asian events – two Thailand Opens and the World Tour Finals in Bangkok – after Sukamuljo failed to recover from the coronavirus.

The 25-year-old first tested positive on 20 December and has tested positive again twice since, including his most recent test on 31 December.

According to reports, he lost his sense of smell and taste, a common symptom of Covid.

However, Indonesian men's doubles head coach Herry Iman Pierngadi said the pair, popularly nicknamed the "Minions", would have withdrawn even if Sukamuljo had tested negative on his final test.

According to the BWF, Pierngadi said: "Even if he had tested negative, I wouldn’t have wanted him to compete at these three taxing tournaments. He wouldn’t have had enough time to prepare properly. Right now, his health is of utmost importance."

Sukamuljo has been in isolation at home since his first positive test, and has not had contact with his teammates who were not previously informed of his positive tests.

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This pair are the latest to withdraw from at least part of the BWF World Tour restart in the Thai capital.

China withdrew its players from the two Thailand Opens at the end of December over Covid concerns, while Japan pulled out after men’s world number one Momota Kento tested positive in a routine pre-departure screening test at Tokyo Narita Airport.

Neither team has yet indicated a stance on the World Tour Finals scheduled for 27-31 January.

The BWF says no positive tests have been reported for players who were tested on arrival or in quarantine in Bangkok.