Saina Nehwal, Parupall Kashyap seek Olympic qualification period extension

Most Indian badminton players are racing against time to improve their points on the Olympic qualification rankings.

By Subhayan Dutta ·

Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap have urged the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to draw out the Olympic qualification cut-off date, currently fixed as April 30, after Olympic qualifier events German Open, China Masters, Polish Open and many more were either cancelled or postponed due to the escalation of coronavirus cases around the world.

As per the Olympic qualification process, the BWF rankings list released on April 30 will determine the number of badminton players a nation can send to the 2020 Olympics. 

This makes the upcoming tournaments crucial for the Indian badminton players as they need to get more points and improve their positions.

The recent proceedings saw the Indian badminton players losing out on many points opportunities as the German Open had a maximum of 7,000 points on offer, the China Masters had 5,500 while the Polish Open offered 4,000 points.

Indian badminton players racing against time

Parupalli Kashyap, ranked 24, and Sania Nehwal, ranked 22, on the men’s and women’s singles Olympic qualification rankings list respectively, as of March 1, will need to play as many tournaments as possible to reach the top 16 and get a direct qualification.

The cancellation or postponement of recent badminton events isn’t helping their cause as well as other Indian badminton players, which include Kidambi Srikanth, Sourabh Verma and HS Prannoy as well.

“It will be unfair for most of the players who are really close to qualifying for Olympics 2020,” tweeted Saina Nehwal, the 2012 London Games bronze medalist.

Events that are Olympic qualifier

The BWF Olympic Qualification will be taking numerous big-tickets and minor tournaments into account to offer ranking points for the 2020 Olympics. The tournaments include Thomas & Uber Cup, Sudirman Cup, World Championships, Grade 2 BWF tour tournaments – Levels 1 to 6, Grade 3 BWF Continental tour tournaments, Continental Championships (individual and team), Continental multisport games and many others.

“Now that German Open is cancelled and Swiss Open is looking doubtful and Singapore and Malaysia Open also with the same worries, it will be completely unfair for so many athletes who are on the borderline of qualification at this moment... I hope all the athletes have a fair chance to qualify for the Olympics,” Parupalli Kashyap pointed out on his Twitter page.

Indian badminton players who are safe

India’s badminton singles star B Sai Praneeth is ranked 11th with 51,277 points on the Olympic qualification rankings list as of March 1 and is well within the direct qualification (top 16) bracket.

On the same list for women’s singles, PV Sindhu is sitting seventh with 67,754 and is one of India’s biggest medal hopes at the 2020 Olympics. The other Indian badminton players looking at a direct qualification are Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who sit eighth on the same list in the men’s doubles event.

What next for the Indian badminton players

Two of the biggest events in March that the Indian badminton players will try to make the most of are the All England Open and the India Open.

While the English tournament, scheduled from March 11-15, offers a maximum of 12,000 points, the Indian shuttlers will have a chance to grab an enticing 9,200 points on their home soil later in the month.