The Badminton Association of India (BAI) said on Friday that it has sought clarity from the world body on the qualification scenario for Indian players following the postponement of the Malaysia Open.
The Malaysia Open, one of the two remaining Olympic qualification tournaments, was postponed on Friday. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) said that the event would no longer be part of the qualification calendar.
It means that the Singapore Open in June as the only remaining tournament for players to collect points for the ‘Race to Tokyo’ rankings that will determine qualifiers for the July-August Olympics.
The Singapore Open is scheduled to be held from June 1-6 while the qualification calendar ends on June 15.
But, importantly, Singapore has suspended flights from India due to a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.
“BAI is in touch with the Singapore Badminton Association and is trying to find the best possible way regarding the mandatory 21-day quarantine rule [of Singapore],” said the BAI in a statement.
“It’s really unfortunate that the crucial qualifier had to be postponed in this way but that is the time we live in now. Though four of our players have already qualified and there are few more including Saina [Nehwal] and [Kidambi] Srikanth who can still make it. I have reached out to BWF secretary Thomas Lund asking for clarity on the future course of action,” BAI general secretary Ajay Singhania said.
Reigning world champion PV Sindhu, 2019 World Championships bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth and men’s doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are in line to gain qualification for the Olympics based on their standings in the Race to Tokyo rankings.
Those placed within the top 16 of the standings in singles gain automatic qualification while those within the top eight go through in doubles. Sindhu and Praneeth are ranked seventh and 13th respectively while Rankireddy and Shetty are eighth.
Among Indians who remain in contention for qualification are former singles world No.1 players Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth and, to a lesser extent women’s doubles pair Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy. Saina is ranked 22nd while Srikanth is 20th. Ashwini and Sikki are 26th a whopping 14 places below the qualification ranking.
“We will do whatever best possible can be done to find a better way out so that the shuttlers get the chance to secure the Olympic berths if there’s scope and opportunity,” the BAI said.