Covid-19 restrictions put Olympics badminton qualification in jeopardy


Slim hope of making the Tokyo Games: Goh Soon Huat (right) and Shevon Lai Jemie

PETALING JAYA: The fate of two remaining Olympics qualifiers for badminton is hanging in the balance following the new wave of Covid-19 pandemic in the region.

It’s feared that both the Malaysian Open (May 25-30) and Singapore Open (June 1-6) may not take place after all despite having being pushed back earlier by the hosts and Badminton World Federation (BWF).

They were originally scheduled from March 31-April 4 and April 13-18 respectively.

Due to the rescheduling of the Opens, BWF extended the Olympics qualification deadline from May 2 to June 15 to allow more time for the suspended events from last year to be completed.

Only qualifiers in the six-month period from Jan 1 to June 15 will count towards the Race to Tokyo standings. The world body will not be making further changes.

Several main qualifiers such as the German Open (March 9-14), Asia Championships (April 27-May 2) and most recently the Indian Open (May 11-16) have already been called off.

Badminton Asia announced that their flagship individual meet will be rescheduled after the Olympics, quashing hopes that it would be slotted into the final week of the qualification period from June 8-13.

So the question now is will the Malaysian and Singapore Opens suffer the same fate?

The Malaysian Open is indeed on a slippery slope as their status is now unsure with the government’s decision to implement the third movement control order (MCO 3.0) in Klang Valley.

A mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers from 40 countries, including China and Denmark, have also complicated matter.

Then, there’s also a travel ban on Indian citizens, which will prevent the Indian shuttlers to fly in whether through direct or transit flights.

The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) will make an announcement soon whether they are going ahead or calling off the event.

BAM are currently in discussions with all the stakeholders to see if the tournament at the Axiata Arena can still be hosted in less than three weeks time.

Any cancellation of the last two qualifiers would essentially end the Tokyo Olympics hopes for the likes of Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie and Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong who still stand a mathematical chance to qualify.

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