PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Open and Malaysian Masters are set to be staged back-to-back next April as the Badminton World Federation (BWF) unveiled their revised tournament calendar which adopts a cluster system where possible.
The Malaysian Open will take place from March 31-April 4, followed by the Malaysian Masters from April 6-11.
The “Malaysia bubble” is one of three clusters confirmed together with the ones in Indonesia and Denmark.
The “Indonesia bubble” will be the Indonesian Masters (June 1-6) and Indonesian Open (June 8-13) while the Denmark Open (Oct 12-17) and Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Finals form the ‘Denmark bubble’.
“The focus is to establish cluster events where possible, similar to what is planned for the Asian leg in Thailand next month. We expect to stage a number of tournaments this way to ensure a more feasible programme in 2021, ” said BWF secretary-general Thomas Lund.
“The Covid-19 situation continues to provide a challenging environment for us to run tournaments and although the hope is that the vaccine may in time create a world with less restrictions, BWF expect the pandemic will still influence tournament hostings throughout 2021.”
However, it is not known, how the non-cluster events would affect players in three European Swing meets in March – Swiss Open (2-7), German Open (9-14) and All-England (17-21) – where travel remain heavily restricted.
The Swiss and German Opens are important events as they are part of the incomplete Olympics qualifiers that include the Malaysian Open, Singapore Open (April 13-18), Asian Badminton Championships (April 27-May 2) and Indian Open (May 11-16).
Meanwhile, BWF also announced that they would provide the host nations with Covid-19 Support Package to help cover the costs of implementing protocols which includes testing, arrangements around hotel safety, cleaning, provisions of face masks to participants and sanitising equipment.
The BWF would also allow the total minimum prize money to be reduced to a certain extent.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia welcomed the long-awaited announcement.
Their secretary Datuk Kenny Goh said they are ready to make the “Malaysian bubble” a success.
“It’s a positive progress by BWF in announcing the dates for several tournaments, ” said Kenny.
“For us, we would now need to discuss and plan with all stakeholders on how we can move forward and ensure all SOPs are adhered to.
“We also want to work with BWF on organising the tournaments effectively without losing money.”
The other important announcements are:
*The dates for the Sudirman Cup in Suzhou, China (slated for May 23-30) will be reviewed
*The world rankings will be unfrozen on Feb 2.
*The Tokyo Olympics qualification will restart with the Swiss Open (March 2-7) and conclude with the Indian Open (May 11-16)