The latest season of PBL was set to begin in the last week of December but now the organisers are eyeing a June 2021 window to host the badminton tournament.
The sixth season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) has been postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
Held in India, the PBL is one of the biggest and most lucrative franchise-based badminton leagues in the world. Top shuttlers from around the globe have regularly featured in the tournament for the past five seasons.
The latest edition was scheduled to begin in the last week of December in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. However, with the pandemic situation worsening worldwide, SportzLive, the official license holder of the league under the aegis of the Badminton Association of India (BAI), has decided to move the event back.
“We have been lucky to get a window in December-January for the last five years but COVID has turned life upside down. International travel is also banned till December 31 so that is also a problem. We have to think about the players’ safety in these times,” Prasad Mangipudi, MD of SportzLive, said to PTI.
India is facing COVID-19's second wave and the host cities - Delhi, Mumbai and Pune - are witnessing a rapid growth in coronavirus cases.
The organisers, however, are looking for new dates, with the June 2021 window between the Tokyo Olympics and the Olympics qualifiers being seen as the best bet.
“There is the Asia leg (of the BWF World Tour) in January and then the Olympic qualifiers. We are hoping to host the event between the Olympics and the end of the last qualifying tournament in May,” Mangipudi said.
“Then we can get some key players, including the Tokyo-bound players, who may take this event as a match practice ahead of the Games as you have guaranteed five-six matches in this event,” he added.
The organisers are also fully wary of the constantly evolving COVID scenario and a final decision will only be made, taking the prevalent scenario into account.
"Hoping once we have a vaccine in January-February, things will get clear and we will be able to lock a date," Mangipudi stated.
Events like the Thomas and Uber Cups, the Denmark Masters and several other tournaments were cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.
The BWF intends to resume the calendar with the BWF World Tour's Asian leg, which was rescheduled to January 2021.
Lead photo: Premier Badminton League