Race to Tokyo heats up for shuttlers after BWF decision

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian shuttlers hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in July must make the most of their opportunities over the next three months.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) have confirmed that there will be no more changes to the Race to Tokyo qualification process which concludes in mid-June.

This comes after they had extended the qualifying cut-off date from May 2 to June 15 to pave the way for the rescheduling of two crucial events – the Malaysian Open (May 25-30) and Singapore Open (June 1-6). There have been a number of qualifiers cancelled, including some lower-tier events, due to Covid-19 concerns and the most notable was the German Open, which was supposed to take place next week.

“Some of the listed tournaments may not be hosted within the period from Jan 4 to June 13, and no replacement tournaments will be included, ” according to a statement on the revised Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification System which was uploaded on the world body’s website yesterday.

“If they are hosted at a later date outside of the extended qualification period, they will not be included in the Race to Tokyo rankings.”

The announcement will come as a major blow for the likes of independent shuttlers Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing who are making a last-ditch attempt to make the cut starting with this week’s Swiss Open. For V Shem-Wee Kiong (14th) and Yew Sin-Ee Yi (15th), they must overtake Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (ninth) in the men’s doubles top-16 bracket to secure the Tokyo Games ticket. A maximum of two pairs can qualify from a country provided both are ranked in the top eight.

Similarly, in the mixed doubles, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (seventh) are currently ahead of Soon Huat-Shevon (11th) and Kian Meng-Pei Jing (13th). As it stands, the four remaining opportunities for these players to collect points are the Asian Badminton Championships (April 27-May 2), Indian Open (May 11-16), Malaysian Open and Singapore Open – provided they go on as planned.

While there are some satellite tournaments, which are also part of the Race to Tokyo, such as the Portuguese International Series (May 6-9) and Peru International Series (May 21-25), it’s unlikely the players will head there as the points offered hardly make any difference.

At the moment, Lee Zii Jia (men’s singles), Soniia Cheah (women’s singles) and Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (women’s doubles) are virtually assured of their places at the Olympics.

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