For players like Saina Nehwal -- ranked below the qualifying cut off -- the BWF’s decision to use cancelled tournaments as qualifiers will come as a huge relief. (Picture: Vaibhav Raghunandan)
Badminton is going to be back in action ‘as soon as possible after the coronavirus pandemic, the Thoman Lund, Secretary General of Badminton World Federation (BWF) told AFP, adding that international travel restrictions have complicated the situation.
Like tennis, golf, badminton’s international circuit has faced major hurdles, after countries around the globe introduced travel bans and imposed lockdowns to combat the pandemic. Lund said a reworked calendar for 2020 was expected. But he cautioned about nothing being fixed.
“We are gearing up to be ready to start competition as soon as possible,” he said. “This includes formulating a revamped BWF tournament calendar for 2020. An announcement on this will be made shortly.”
The main event of the badminton season, the Tokyo Olympics, has now been shifted to 2021 freeing up the calendar for other events. Unfortunately though, there is little chance of things slotting in place. The Thomas and Uber Cup, another highlight of the season, has been moved later into the year, although a fixed schedule is far from guaranteed.
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The men’s and women’s world team championships, scheduled to take place in May, has been moved to August and will now take place in Aarhus, Denmark in October.
“At this point in time, it is difficult to predict when international movement and entry restrictions will be lifted by individual countries and territories in order to guarantee that players, their entourage, officials and staff can participate in tournaments safely,” he said.
In some good news for the players though, the BWF have decided that they will not introduce a new one-year qualifying period for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. Instead, they are likely to continue where they have left off.
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The world body suspended all tournaments after the All-England in March Birmingham due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Following the decision, the world body were unable to complete the last six weeks of their one-year qualifying period which was scheduled to end on April 30.
All the tournaments during that time – German Open, Swiss Open, Malaysian Open, Indian Open, Singapore Open and the Asia Badminton Championships – were either cancelled or postponed. The BWF are looking at using the same tournaments as the Olympic qualifiers next year.