The Badminton World Federation is looking to freeze the world rankings of the badminton players after the Tokyo Olympics was postponed until next year by the International Olympic Committee owing the coronavirus pandemic.
The BWF had decided to suspend all badminton tournaments on March 20 until the end of April, which included big-ticket badminton tournaments like BWF India Open (Super 500), Malaysia Open (Super 750) and the Singapore Open (Super 500), apart from the three Continental Confederation championships.
Now, with the Tokyo Olympics expected to be “rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021,” the world badminton body is looking at a way to preserve the progress that has already been made.
"For our athletes, we will review any impacts on the Olympic and Paralympic qualification system to ensure a fair solution is found to qualify players for the postponed Games," the Badminton World Federation said in a statement.
"BWF, in the short-term, is also looking into the possibility of freezing World Rankings until international tournaments start again.
“However, we are still working on the technical solution to ensure the freezing and eventual un-freezing of World Rankings works fairly for all players and we will announce this shortly," the statement further read.
Olympic qualification procedure
As per the Olympic qualification procedure, a singles badminton player needs to be amongst the top 16 shuttlers in the ‘Race to Tokyo – BWF Olympic Qualification’ rankings table, while the cut-off for the doubles players is the top eight.
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.
Where will Indian badminton players stand
The last BWF event that took place was the All England Open following which the international calendar was frozen for two months.
In case the BWF decides to freeze the world rankings, only two Indian badminton players remain in the automatic qualification spot as per the rankings released on March 24.
B Sai Praneeth sits 13th on the ‘Race to Tokyo - BWF Olympic Qualification’ rankings table with 51,527 points in the men’s singles category. The closest to B Sai Praneeth is former world no. 1 Kidambi Srikanth with 40,469 points, sitting out of direct qualification ranking range in the 22nd spot.
PV Sindhu sits higher in the seventh position on the women singles table with 70,754 points after finishing in the last eight of the All England Open. An early exit for Saina Nehwal, on the other hand, in England sees her sitting 22nd with 41,847 and out of the direct qualification spot.
The men’s doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty has fallen out of the direct qualification spot after they decided to not compete in the All England Open. They sit ninth in the men’s doubles table with 57,500 points.