Badminton prepares for busy 2021 as BWF mulls over Olympic qualification

As per Badminton World Federation’s qualification rules, PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth and doubles players Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty may make it to Tokyo.

By Rahul Venkat ·

There will be no change to the qualification procedure for the Tokyo Olympics as things stand, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) revealed on Tuesday.

The top-16 singles players and top-8 doubles pairs in the ‘Race to Tokyo’ rankings will automatically make the Tokyo Olympics cut. Entries are, however, restricted to two quota places if more than two from a particular country are ranked in the top-16.

With the 2020 season suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BWF had announced that the qualification period for the Tokyo Olympics had been extended to April 26, 2021. The situation remains the same for now.

“There will be a maximum of 25 tournaments that will be held in the first four months of 2021 that will be designated as Olympic qualifying tournaments,” said BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund.

“We are trying, as far as possible, to see how the 2021 calendar might evolve and are reviewing whether that might impact the qualification period for the Tokyo Olympics.

“I cannot confirm right now if there will be any extension or changes to the qualifying procedure. We can only take a call when the tournaments begin in 2021,” Lund added.

The BWF had also frozen the rankings in March and had announced that the entries and seeding to tournaments would be made using those rankings.

The announcement could be a blow for the likes of London 2012 bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth, who currently lie just outside the automatic qualification spots. It is still unclear when the rankings might be opened for them to stake their claim for Tokyo.

PV Sindhu is placed seventh in the ‘Race to Tokyo’ Olympics rankings.

As of now, Rio 2016 silver medallist PV Sindhu, World Championships bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth and young doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty are eligible to play at the Tokyo Olympics.

A busy 2021 for badminton

Badminton is preparing for an unprecedented and busy 2021 season as it will have to accommodate the Olympics, the World Championships, team events like the Thomas and Uber Cups and other regular events into the calendar.

Though the sport returns internationally next month with the Super 750 Denmark Open, the three-tournament Asian leg of the 2020 BWF World Tour, originally slated for October this year has now been shifted to January 2021 in Thailand.

Thailand will also host the subsequent 2020 BWF World Tour Finals. It means that the end of the current season has also been postponed to 2021.

“Given the challenges we faced, this was the best possible solution under the circumstances,” said BWF President Poul-Erik Hoyer.

“I am confident that with our safety protocols in place, the three events will kickstart badminton’s successful return in 2021.”