PETALING JAYA: The qualifying race for the Tokyo Olympics badminton event is set resume from January, with a total of 24 tournaments that were postponed, cancelled or suspended due to Covid-19 this year, including the Malaysian Open, remaining as part of the qualifiers.
Badminton World Federation (BWF) in a statement on Wednesday (May 27) said all these tournaments must be held and completed within the first 17 weeks (Jan 4-May 2) of 2021.
A modified tournament calendar for 2021 with the actual dates for these selected tournaments will be revealed in due course.
The world body added that all ranking points earned at tournaments completed during the original Olympic qualification period, which came to a halt after the All-England in March, would be maintained under the Race to Tokyo ranking lists.
This news will surely come as a relief for the Malaysian shuttlers, including Lee Zii Jia, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Soniia Cheah, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, who are all provisionally qualified to date.
The much-anticipated updates on the qualification process came just a week after BWF unveiled its revamped calendar for the remainder of 2020, which packed in a whopping 22 tournaments from mid-August.
Despite staging plenty of tournaments this year, BWF secretary-general Thomas Lund said there was a reason why they chose to restart the qualifying race from next year.
“Although we aim to resume international tournaments towards the end of 2020, we have chosen to resume the Olympic and Paralympic qualification process only in 2021 to ensure that travel restrictions and other related impacts of Covid-19 are limited," he said.
“We feel this is a fair solution for all athletes, and it will be our first and main priority to conduct these tournaments as part of badminton and Para badminton’s adjusted return in the wake of Covid-19.
“It has been a thorough process with the close and valuable consultation of the Athletes’ Commission to consider how best to make adjustments to the Olympic and Paralympic qualification system," said Lund.
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