India Open badminton tournament postponed indefinitely after recent COVID-19 surge
The India Open badminton tournament, slated to be held at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi from 11-16 May, has been postponed owing to rising COVID-19 cases in the city, BAI announced on Monday.
New Delhi: The India Open badminton tournament, slated to be held at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in the national capital from 11-16 May, 2021, has been postponed owing to rising COVID-19 cases in the city, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) announced on Monday.
The World Tour Super 500 event was a qualifying event for Tokyo Olympics, slated to start on 23 July, 2021.
A total of 13 international shuttlers had recently announced their withdrawal from the event, including reigning Olympic champions in women's singles Carolina Marin, and Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon. The Danish men's singles duo of Anders Antonsen and Rasmus Gemke had also decided not to travel to India for the event.
Speaking to mediapersons in a virtual press conference, BAI general-secretary Ajay Singhania said, "Considering the current challenges, BAI is left with no option but to announce the postponement of the tournament for the time being. It is unfortunate, but holding such a tournament in this COVID-19 crisis would have put a lot of people at risk."
The national capital goes in a week-long lockdown from 10 pm to 5 am starting today (19 April). The positive COVID cases in the city has breached the 25,000-mark and the positivity rate is inching towards 30 percent.
The decision was taken after an emergency meeting between BAI and Badminton World Federation (BWF) and in consultation with the Delhi government.
"Several rounds of discussions were held with BWF as well as the Delhi government and other stakeholders. We have assessed safety of players and officials, and based on that, we deemed it fit to postpone the event," Singhania added.
No new dates are known so far, and the fresh dates will be decided in consultation with BWF. "The BWF is keeping a close watch on the situation in India, and we'll zero in on new dates later. BAI will hold a grand and successful tournament when the situation is appropriate," he said.
The postponement comes as a blow to India's Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, both of whom were hoping to get some vital ranking points and make it to top-16 in Race to Tokyo rankings and earn a quota for the country. The last edition of the India Open too was cancelled after it was initially postponed from March to December. Syed Modi Super 300 event, which was slated for 17-22 November, was also cancelled in the revised calendar.
India Open 2021 had an official entry list of 228 players, and an estimated 300 people, including coaches, support staff, and officials were expected to be in attendance across six days. The event was supposed to be held in a bio-secure bubble without spectators and media.
Axelsen returned a first positive test after beating Finn Kalle Koljonen in the semi-finals on Saturday and must isolate in Kiev. He was to face fellow Dane Anders Antonsen, who claimed his first European title with a walkover.
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that has a day off during the fortnight but this provides scheduling challenges, particularly when there is bad weather in the first week.
Tokyo Olympics 2020: Saina Nehwal, Indian shuttlers' qualification hopes in balance due to COVID-19 enforced flight ban
Following the postponement of the India Open (11-16 May), Saina and Srikanth's hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Games hinge on the (25-30 May) Kuala Lumpur event followed by the Singapore Open (1-6 June).