PETALING JAYA: Doubles ace Aaron Chia has expressed his concern about playing in next month’s Indian Open, but signs are pointing towards the tournament being called off following a surge of Covid-19 cases in the country.
On Monday, India became only the second nation after the United States to record more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases in a single day, with a total of 103,558 new infections reported.
On Tuesday, another 115,736 new cases were reported, bringing the tally to 12.8mil to date.
In a response to the worrying trend, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) swiftly ordered all domestic events in April and May to be postponed indefinitely, according to the Times of India.
However, the BAI made no mention of the status of the US$400,000 (RM1.65mil) Indian Open, an Olympics qualifier that’s slated for May 11-16 in New Delhi.
The entry deadline for the tournament closed on Tuesday and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) had indicated previously that they will enter a strong squad which include Lee Zii Jia, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean – the nation’s top men’s singles, men’s doubles and women’s doubles players.
Zii Jia has been tasked with improving on his position in the Race to Tokyo standings in view of securing a better seeding at the Olympics while Aaron-Wooi Yik and Mei Kuan-Meng Yean will seek to put their Tokyo Games berths beyond doubt.
Currently ranked ninth in the Olympics rankings, Aaron-Wooi Yik need to fend off possible late challenges from compatriots – Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (14th) and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (15th) – with just three qualifiers remaining including the Malaysian Open (May 25-30) and Singapore Open (June 1-6).
A nation can only qualify two pairs provided both are ranked in the top eight.
As for Mei Kuan-Meng Yean, they now sit 10th but must try to keep themselves in the top 13 in the Race to Tokyo as the last three spots are reserved for pairs from Pan-America, Oceania and African continents.
Aaron said he and teammates will just have to take a “wait-and-see” approach for now.
“It’s worrying indeed but for now we have been asked to prepare ourselves for the tournament. The tournament is still about a month away, so we’ll see how things pan out, ” said Aaron, who skipped the All-England last month.
“For sure we would love to play in India, but seeing the number (of cases) rising each day does make us feel hesitant.
“Every remaining Olympics qualifier matters to us because the Race to Tokyo is not over until it’s over. We know we’re in a solid position to qualify, but we won’t feel safe until we secure an unassailable lead.”