India Open Super 500 tournament will be played in New Delhi from May 11 to 16 but the Badminton Association of India on Tuesday confirmed the Olympic qualification event will be held behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A star-studded field can be expected as the likes of reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin and World No. 1 Kento Momota are part of the initial entry list.
India Open, one of the last few qualification events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, has attracted 228 (114 men and 114 women) entries from 33 different national associations, including China.
“Due to the rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in the country, the tournament will be contested in a bio-secure bubble without spectators and media while implementing strict COVID-19 safety protocols,” the BAI said.
“All the players and officials coming from South Africa, Brazil, Middle East and European countries including UK will be serving a 7-day quarantine period and have to report in the capital city on May 3,” it added.
“… Players and officials from rest of the world can arrive on May 6 and undergo a 4-day quarantine period.”
Apart from the 3-time world champion Marin India’s PV Sindhu, Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi and Korea’s An Se Young are part of the top 10 in the women’s singles field. Among the men, two-time world champion Momota, defending champion Viktor Axelson, Anders Antonsen and reigning All England Open champion Zii Jia Lee will be in the fray.
India boasts of the largest contingent with 48 players (27 women and 21 men), while Malaysia has fielded the second biggest squad with 26 shuttlers, which includes 10 women and 16 men. The likes of Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth will be looking to gain crucial points in a bid to make it to Tokyo.
A total of 10 shuttlers (4 women and 6 men) from China are also part of the participant’s list.
The last date for withdrawal of entry is April 19 while the draw will be announced on April 20.
We have to be more cautious: BAI
The governing body said “Delhi Government will conduct RT-PCR test on arrival on May 3 and 6 as well as on May 9 and 14.
“We are really happy to finally be able to resume badminton action. But with the recent spike in cases, we have to be more cautious,” BAI general secretary of BAI Ajay Singhania said.
“We understand spectators have been an integral part of our growth story but this year despite it being an Olympic qualifier and an array of star shuttlers in action, we have to take the decision of conducting the tournament in a bio bubble.”