The Badminton Association of India's (BAI) inexplicable decision to reduce the Senior National Championship by a day here has thrown the schedule off-track with the players being forced to play well beyond midnight on Friday.
The Nationals have always been conducted over five days but this year the apex body decided to finish the tournament in four days. Faced with a heavy load of matches, chief referee, Anil Singh, began the individual events soon after the Inter-State Championship on Thursday but with eight teams yet to arrive, the emergency measure did not solve the problem.
"We can't blame the teams for not turning up. They were never informed the matches would begin soon after the inter-state. That is why we could not give walkovers yesterday. The problem got compounded today because we lost three hours to the inauguration ceremony," Singh told HT.
Though the chief referee was incensed with the change, BAI secretary (events) Punniah Choudhary defended the decision saying, "We thought the matches could be conducted in four as they have six courts here.
"We have been conducting the Nationals in four days earlier too. Here, the problem is that due to low temperatures, matches cannot start at 8.00 a.m.," he added. Choudhary seemed to have missed the point. Playing well past midnight is no different than playing early in the morning. Also, in the last six years, almost all the venues had five or more courts and still the tournament was conducted over five days.
The other reason BAI officials were giving to justify the move was that they were trying to reduce the financial burden on the organisers. But Haryana BAI secretary, Ajai Singhania, refuted the claim. "If we can spend so much money on the tournament what difference does one day make.