Two more meets postponed, but Choong Hann’s cool

There’s still hope: Goh V Shem (back) and Tan Wee Kiong are second in the Road to Tokyo rankings behind Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik.

KUALA LUMPUR: National coaching director Wong Choong Hann is putting on a brave front although the final stage of the qualifying period for the Olympic Games is in chaos with the postponement of two more tournaments.

Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed on Wednesday that German Open from March 3-8 in Mulheim and Polish Open from March 26-29, which are qualifiers for the Olympics in Tokyo from July 25-Aug 9, have been deferred indefinitely.

BWF stated the hosts have postponed the tournaments due to concerns over the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Malaysian team led by Olympic hopefuls Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik were supposed to leave for Mulheim on Sunday for the German Open but they will now stay at home.

The world body have assured that All-England from March 11-15 in Birmingham will go on as scheduled but it’s unsure whether the host will be pressured by their government to shelve it too.

A one-year qualifying period for shuttlers end on April 30, leaving them with only the Swiss Open (March 17-22), India Open (March 24-29), Malaysian Open (March 31-April 5), Singapore Open (7-12) and Asian Championships (April 21-26) – to earn qualifying points.

Choong Hann admitted that the postponement of the recent two tournaments would affect the Malaysian players, especially in the doubles department.

Malaysia are trying to qualify a maximum of two pairs in the men’s and mixed doubles and one pair in the women’s doubles – but with the current situation, Malaysia may end up having only one representative each in every event.

A country can have a maximum of two pairs if both are in the top eight standing by end of April.

In the men’s doubles, the top three pairs in the Road to Tokyo ranking are Aaron-Wooi Yik (9), Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (13) and Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin (17). In the mixed doubles, the top two pairs with realistic chances of making it are Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (7) and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (10).

The only women’s pair hoping to make their Olympic debut are Lee Meng Yean-Chow Mei Kuan. They are ranked 10th but have to maintain in top 16 in order to make the cut.

In the singles, Lee Zii Jia and Soniia Cheah, are set to make the trip as Malaysia’s sole men and women representatives.

Choong Hann has accepted the predicament they are in.

“The number of Olympic qualifiers are getting fewer but we can’t complain right now,” said Choong Hann.

“Our players have been given ample of chances to qualify, missing one or two are not going to make a difference right now.

“All they need to do right now is to produce good results. It’ll mean nothing if they get to go and still produce poor results,” he said.

Asked whether BWF should extend the Olympic qualifying period, Choong Hann said: “It’s tough to move the deadline now, it’ll create more problems. It’s now up to the players to deliver the goods in the remaining tournaments.”
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