Many Asian players have to stay away from the women's World Open Squash Championship because of financial problems, media in Kuala Lumpur reported on Tuesday.
Among the 56 players for the World Open which will begin on Wednesday in Belfast, only six are Asian players, with Malaysia and Hong Kong of China each having three.
Absent from the championship are players from some traditional Asian squash playing nations, including India, South Korea and Japan.
Malaysia have two players in the main draw, namely, top seed and defending champion Nicol David and Sharon Wee, while Tricia Chuah is taking part in the qualifying tournament.
Hong Kong has Rebecca Chiu in the main draw while Christina Mak and Elise Ng have to earn places in the tournament proper from the main draw.
Hong Kong chief coach Tony Choi said the small field of Asian players was not a good sign for the development of the sport in the continent.
Choi noted cost is the main reason for Asian players staying away from the championship.
"It's very expensive for players to travel to Europe to compete. We have three players for this World Open and the flight tickets alone cost us $15,000. "The cost for accommodation is also not cheap", he was quoted as saying by The Star.
On the other hand, the Women's International Squash Players Association (WISPA) executive director Andrew Shelley felt the situation was not something to be too alarmed about.
"Last year, we organised the World Open in Hong Kong and we had players from other Asian countries and regions besides Malaysia and Hong Kong. At the same time, some of the players from Europe did not take part in the tournament in Hong Kong," said Shelley.
Malaysia and Hong Kong participate in the World Open because they have players who can compete at the highest standard, said Shelley.