PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s badminton Olympic Games hopefuls are on pins and needles.
Their anxiety is understandable as tournaments in Europe are in danger of being wiped out due to rising Covid-19 cases, and if that happens, it will make it harder for our shuttlers to qualify for the Tokyo Games in July.
The Swiss Open and All-England are now doubtful following the cancellation of the German Open (March 9-14) due to their government’s decision to close the border.
The Swiss Open from March 2-7 is the first of two tournaments to restart the Olympics qualifiers, the other being the German Open. Meanwhile, the prestigious All-England (March 17-21) is the third leg of the European swing but does not offer Olympics points.
The Swiss Open has already lost some of its glitter as the South Koreans have joined their Chinese and Japanese counterparts in withdrawing from the tournament due to Covid-19 fears.
Switzerland is currently under level four which is deemed very high and travellers are advised to avoid going to these destinations.
The Malaysians registered in the tournament are Lee Zii Jia, Liew Daren (men’s singles); Soniia Cheah (women’s singles); Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani, Low Hang Yee-Ng Eng Cheong, Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin (men’s doubles); Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Teoh Mei Xing-Yap Ling, Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah (women’s doubles); and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See, Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei, Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing (mixed doubles).
Those fighting to qualify for the Olympics are independent shuttlers Soniia, V Shem-Wee Kiong, Ee Yi-Yew Sin, Soon Huat-Shevon and Kian Meng-Pei Jing.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia secretary Datuk Kenny Goh said they have yet to book the flights to Basel.
“We will wait for a few more days, ” said Kenny. “The Badminton World Federation have not said anything whether there will be another qualifier now that the German Open is off.
“We will also have to re-look the logistics part of it. As there is a one-week gap between the Swiss Open and All-England, we may have to stay at one of the local training centres in the UK.”
The status of the All-England is also a big question mark as there are about 10,000 Covid-19 cases reported daily in England.