They are neither high profile nor represent a country that boasts of any great success in badminton. Yet, the return of the Austrian men’s doubles pair of Juergen Koch and Peter Zauner has caught the organisers by surprise.
Koch and Zauner left for Austria on Monday night and communicated their decision to the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on their way back through e-mail. The players citied the reported security concerns and the pullout of the English team as the reasons for their return.
The pair had received a first-round bye and was scheduled to take the court on Wednesday. The third player from Austria, Michael Lahnsteiner, lost his singles first-round tie to sixth seed Sony Dwi Kuncoro on Monday but stayed back in Hyderabad till Thursday.
BWF Chief Operating Officer (COO) Thomas Lund said the players never approached him to crosscheck the security scenario. “The BWF has not had any direct contact with the Austrian players or received any request from the team to get additional information about security,” he said.
“We received a communication from them on Tuesday but couldn’t do much about it,” Lund added.
The Austrian team had not been attending the special manager’s meetings organised by the BWF to appraise the teams on security.
The tournament rules also do not make it mandatory for teams to appoint a manager since it is not financially viable for teams that have just one or two players.
Lund added that he was not aware of any security advisory issued by the Austrian embassy. When Hindustan Times contacted Lahnsteiner, he confirmed that there was no specific communication from the embassy and it was a personal decision by his teammates.
“This is my first World Championship. So, I wanted to play here,” said the 25-year-old, adding that he never felt security was an issue.