Further information about the Olympic qualification procedure for the badminton players hereon is awaited.
A day after Indian badminton stars like Parupalli Kashyap and others sought clarity from the government through social media about the specified quarantine period issued by the Indian Health Ministry to adjust his sporting calendar, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced the suspension of all badminton events from March 16 until April 12.
After PV Sindhu became the last Indian badminton player to get eliminated from the All England Open, the Indian shuttlers were turning to the Swiss Open, scheduled to be held in Basel.
However, with the escalation of COVID-19 cases all over the world and the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the outbreak a pandemic last week, the BWF has decided to cancel all events.
“The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has taken the necessary step to suspend all HSBC BWF World Tour and other BWF-sanctioned tournaments from Monday 16 March until Sunday April 12,” the BWF release read.
“The escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak globally has led the BWF, in close consultation and consensus with its Host Member Associations and Continental Confederations, to cancel or postpone all tournaments in this period due to heightened travel and quarantine restrictions in place and the subsequent extreme logistical complications this causes to the movement of badminton athletes.”
After seeking help from the Indian government through his Twitter page, Parupalli Kashyap had also called for the cancellation of all events in an interview with ANI on Friday.
"Yes, the events should be cancelled. I don't think we get to make a choice, whatever is the guideline we have to follow, BWF needs to take a stand instead of leaving it to local authorities," Parupalli Kashyap said in the interview.
A host of tournaments will be missed by the badminton players owing to the sudden suspension of events, most of which will affect their Olympic qualification chances.
“A number of the tournaments impacted as a result of the suspension fall within the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifying period,” the statement read on. “BWF will make a further announcement on regulations related to Olympic qualification points at a later date.”
The big-ticket tournaments that the Indian badminton players will be missing during this period are BWF India Open (Super 500), Malaysia Open (Super 750) and the Singapore Open (Super 500).
In the men’s singles event of the Race to Tokyo - BWF Olympic Qualification ranking table, there are three Indians – Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap and Sourabh Verma – fighting for a possible second automatic qualification spot.
While the first Indian place is sealed by B Sai Praneeth, who sits 11th with 51,277 points as of week 11, 21st placed Kidambi Srikanth with 40,129 points, 23rd placed Sourabh Verma with 38,610 points and 24th placed Parupalli Kashyap with 38,240 points are in a race to come within the top 16 shuttlers before the final rankings are released on April 30.
With PV Sindhu almost sealing her Olympic berth by staying well within the top 16 of the women’s singles ranking table on the seventh position, a 22nd placed Saina Nehwal (with 41, 067 points) has an uphill task at hand for what could possibly be her last Olympic Games.