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Rumour mongers create panic

Rumour mongers had a free run at the Gachibowli Stadium after a Malaysian doubles coach was hospitalised on Monday night with symptoms of swine flu, reports Abhijeet Kulkarni.

other Updated: Aug 12, 2009 00:54 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

Rumour mongers had a free run at the Gachibowli Stadium after a Malaysian doubles coach was hospitalised on Monday night with symptoms of swine flu. Tales that did the rounds and created panic ranged from more players being under the scanner to China and Thailand pulling out of the World Badminton Championships.

Even before information about the late night incident could trickle out, employees of Yonex, the tournament sponsor, had procured surgical masks for themselves. However, better sense prevailed and the masks were put away.

Adding to the speculation was the last-minute withdrawal of the Thai men's doubles team of Patipat Chalardchaleam/Nuttaphon Narkthong and mixed doubles combination of Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam.

The team manager told the chief referee that Patipat and Saralee conceded a walkover after they felt feverish. Medical examination did not reveal symptoms of flu and the duo was allowed to stay in the hotel.

In a bid to quell rumours, Badminton Association of India (BAI), president, V.K. Verma, told reporters that Badminton World Federation (BWF), chief operating officer, Thomas Lund and head of emergency, medicine, Apollo Hospital, Dr Mahesh Joshi, were authorized to comment on the issue.

Verma's announcement came was a surprise as Punnaih Chowdhury, the tournament's organizing secretary, was the official spokesperson.

After the delay in addressing concerns over the terror threat to the championship (England pulled out as a result), the BWF was on the job promptly. Chief operation officer Thomas Lund told reporters the coach had complained of sore throat and fever and was under observation in a nearby hospital to rule out swine flu.

Though BWF officials were unwilling to name him, sources said it was Jeremy Gan, the mixed doubles coach. Dr Joshi too confirmed that Gan was under observation. “The reports will come in the next 36 hours,” he said. Two other coaches who were sharing the hotel room with Gan had been given preventive medication.

The doctor said players would now have to go through temperature checks twice a day. “Since it is such a big tournament we do not wish to take any chances.”