No turning back, BWF not extending qualifying season

PETALING JAYA: The Badminton World Federation (BWF) have remained firm in their decision to stick with the Olympic qualification period despite pleas by players to extend it.

There have been calls for the world body to consider extending the one-year qualifying period after the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the BWF tournament schedule since last month, depriving shuttlers of opportunities to collect invaluable ranking points in the final stretch of the Race to Tokyo.

The qualifying should end on April 30 but the notable World Tour events that have been cancelled or postponed include the German Open (March 3-8), Swiss Open (March 17-22), Indian Open (March 24-29), Malaysian Open (March 31-April 5), Singapore Open (April 7-12) and Asian Badminton Championships in Manila (April 21-26).

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Datuk Kenny Goh said the BWF have informed them that they would stick to their existing Olympic qualification cut-off date (April 30) in a reply to BAM’s request for an extension.

“We have written to (BWF secretary-general) Thomas Lund but they have replied to us by saying that they have no intention of making adjustments at the moment, ” said Kenny.

With the All-England being the last tournament to offer ranking points, the chase for Olympic qualification is as good as over for men’s doubles pairs Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi as well as Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing in the mixed doubles.

Kenny believes that BWF could still somehow change their stand as they have yet to make an official announcement on the matter.

“Well, things may change, ” said Kenny.

“After all, things are changing rapidly... everyday.”

The world body could probably extend it until June and be accommodating as other sports leaders.

The athletics and swimming, for instance, have their cut-off date set on June 29, while the qualifiers for golf will be chosen based on the June 22 world rankings.

There’s no shortage of events should BWF change their mind.

There are still four World Tour events lined up in June – Australian Open, Thailand Open, Indonesian Open and US Open.

If BWF’s decision stands, then Malaysia will only be represented by eight shuttlers in all five events at the Tokyo Games.

Those who have qualified are Lee Zii Jia in the men’s singles, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (men’s doubles), Soniia Cheah (women’s singles), Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (women’s doubles) and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles).

Malaysia went to Rio Olympics four years ago with the same numbers but bagged three silver medals through Lee Chong Wei, V Shem-Wee Kiong and Peng Soon-Liu Ying.

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