India Open badminton postponed again due to Covid crisis
The country’s biggest badminton tournament, the $400,000 India Open, was postponed for the second year running due to the surge in Covid-19 cases across the national capital and elsewhere in India.
Scheduled at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall here from May 11-16, the Super 500 event was postponed indefinitely following an exponential surge in positive cases.
“It is unfortunate but after consultation with the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and the Delhi government we have decided to postpone the tournament,” Badminton Association of India (BAI) secretary general Ajay Singhania said in a virtual conference on Monday. Fresh dates will be announced by BWF later. “The Delhi government has announced a lockdown. We are not sure what the future holds. The (Covid) numbers are just too high. Whenever it is suitable we will hold the tournament again.”
The India Open was one of the last Tokyo Olympics qualifying events. Even if it is rescheduled, it will be impossible to organise it during the Olympic qualifying window. The decision thus makes the Race to Tokyo tougher for Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, among others, as there will be one less qualifying event. “A shame but probably the right decision,” tweeted Danish world No.2 Viktor Axelsen.
Several top players, including Spanish women’s Olympic champion Carolina Marin and Thailand’s former world champion Ratchanok Intanon had pulled out before Monday—the last date of withdrawal—and the draw had been scheduled to be announced on Tuesday. The tournament was to have been held behind closed doors in a bio-bubble.
“All attempts were made by organisers to conduct a safe tournament environment for all participants, but the recent spike in Covid-19 cases and gravity of the situation in Delhi left BAI with no choice but to postpone the tournament,” BWF said in a statement.
Singhania said all domestic competitions and camps will stay suspended, barring the ones being held for the Olympic probables.