Postponement of Indian Open puts paid to Tan-Lai’s Olympics hopes

PETALING JAYA: Independent shuttler Lai Pei Jing has conceded that her already slim Tokyo Olympics hopes are now effectively over following the postponement of another qualifying meet – the Indian Open.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) did not cancel the May 11-16 tournament in New Delhi, one of the remaining three qualifying events, but will reschedule it to a later date.

Highly motivated: Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing will now turn their attention to the World Championships later this year.Highly motivated: Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing will now turn their attention to the World Championships later this year.

But it certainly looks highly unlikely to take place before the Tokyo Games qualification cut-off date on June 15.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) made it clear last month that there will be no more changes made to the Race to Tokyo qualification process after they extended the deadline from May 2 to June 15.

Hence Pei Jing and partner Tan Kian Meng’s dreams of making their Olympics debut in Tokyo is unattainable.

The Indian Open was the third qualifier to be taken off the schedule following the cancellation of last month’s German Open and Asian Championships, initially scheduled for this month but had since been postponed until after the Olympics.

“To be honest, we realise that our (Tokyo Olympics qualification) hopes were already slipping away after the German Open and BAC (Asian Championships) were called off. “Kian Meng and I still remain positive and hopeful but now that the Indian Open has been postponed, it is now impossible to make the cut.

“There’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to accept it. The pandemic is beyond our control. We will focus and do our best in the remaining two qualifiers (Malaysian Open and Singapore Open).”

Ranked 13th in the Race to Tokyo standings, Kian Meng-Pei Jing can still overtake seventh-ranked compatriots Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying if they triumph in Malaysia and Singapore. And that is if Peng Soon-Liu Ying fail to collect any points in the two meets.

Also hit by the postponement of the Indian meet are 11th-placed Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie.

A country can only have two pairs in Tokyo if both are ranked in the top eight.

Pei Jing said failing to qualifying for the Olympics isn’t the end of the world for them.

“Besides the Olympics, we still have the World Championships later this year (in Huelva, Spain).

“If we qualify for it, then we can still do the country proud by bringing a medal back. That’s why we remain motivated regardless of what has happened, ” vowed Pei Jing.

“The fact that we have also recently signed for Victor (equipment sponsors), things wasn’t that bad after all. We want to thank them for having us during this challenging times.”

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