Nehwal questioned the BWF’s logic to announce a revamped calendar, noting that other sports with similar disruption have refused to do so. (Picture: Vaibhav Raghunandan)
Multiple badminton players across the country have questioned the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) rescheduled calendar, which lists 22 tournaments from August to December, and have called the planning ‘stupid’, pointing out that it will increase the injury risk.
BWF unveiled a revised international calendar in an attempt to complete events in the remainder of the season, put on halt because of the pandemic.
“Twenty-two events in 5 months is extremely tough on the players. Firstly, there is a question mark on international guidelines and how quarantine will happen. Don’t know how they came up with this when the travel restrictions are still in place,” Parupalli Kashyap told PTI. “We all want to get back to sport but there are a lot of question marks now, we haven’t yet started practice yet.”
Kashyap is not the only one with the questions. Saina Nehwal took to Twitter to pose hers. “22 tournaments in 5 months from August to December 2020…5 months non stop travel … biggest question is what are the international guidelines of travelling during this #coronavirus pandemic??,” she tweeted.
Nehwal also wondered how the BWF had come up with such a taxing schedule when other sports like tennis had not announced a revised calendar due to the global health crisis.
“Tennis didn’t even come out with any plan till October,” she wrote in a subsequent tweet.
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B Sai Praneeth, who is in prime position to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, also expressed how unimpressed he was with the calendar..
“It is stupid to expect players to play 22 tournaments in five months. They are not thinking about players. The BWF president is an Olympic champion, so they should have thought about how can players play week after week,” Praneeth a World Championships bronze medallist tweeted. “Even a fit player can’t play so many tournaments, it will surely lead to injuries. I didn’t expect this from BWF.”
“People are thinking of travelling less in these times, it seems BWF didn’t think whether players can play or not, they are just thinking about themselves. They should have realised the Olympic qualification criteria instead of the schedule. There is still no clarity, why we will play so many tournaments, right now everyone is thinking about the Olympics, and how will they count ranking,” he added.
Most shuttlers are concerned about what toll the high intensity of events could take in the lead up to arguably the biggest event for badminton -- the Olympics. According to the revamped schedule players will be expected to play every few weeks between September to December. Most players who suffer from a workload of 17-18 tournaments a year will have to squeeze a similar number in fewer months. Additionally, there is a clash between tournaments forcing shuttlers to forsake one for another.
Doubles specialist Chirag Shetty, highlighted this discrepancy. “Syed Modi event is colliding with Indonesia Super 1000, both are in the same week,” he said. “So for us, we won’t be able to play our home tournament because we can’t miss a 1000 event, so it is plain stupidity. They shouldn’t have crammed up so many tournaments.”
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With travel restrictions still in place, Chirag feels that it has left players more confused. “I don’t think India will start international travel anytime soon, so it confuses the players. I don’t think there is any clarity. They could have taken more time to decide. The main thing is how they will unfreeze ranking and Olympic qualification..
National coach Pullela Gopichand declined to offer any comments instead dropping the ball on the directives that will arrive from the central and state governments. “We will have to wait until May 31. We will go by the central and state government directives. As of now, the Telangana government has extended the lockdown till May 31 and no sports are allowed in any stadiums.”