Asia Team C’ships will still be competitive without China

One for the album: (from left) RSM Sport managing director Venu Ramadass, Badminton Asia Confederation COO Saw Chit Boon, BAM secretary Datuk Kenny Goh, Mohd Khairuddin Othman and Mohd Nizam Marjugi posing for a photograph after the press conference. — ART CHEN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Favourites China have withdrawn from the Asia Team Championships but it will not take the shine off the tournament.

The competition, to be held from Feb 15-20 at the Setia City Convention Centre in Shah Alam, will serve as a qualifier for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok in May.

Badminton Asia Confederation chief operating officer Saw Chit Boon said powerhouse China would be the notable absentees because of the country’s strict Covid-19 regulations.

2020 Thomas Cup runners-up China, however, will not have any problem making it to the Finals based on their world rankings.

“I believe China have to serve 21 days of quarantine after going back to their country, so they are very particular about the players going out from their nation to attend competitions,” said Chit Boon.

Chit Boon, however, promises that the tournament would not be short of excitement and the fans starved of action will get a chance to watch top-class matches.

“The tournament will run under strict SOPs but a certain number of spectators will be allowed in,” said Chit Boon.

It will be the first badminton tournament to be staged in the country after the cancellation of the last two editions of the Malaysian Open.

“I believe Selangor will do their best to make sure the SOPs are complied with. This starts from the time the teams arrive at the airport,” he said.

“The meet will still see strong participation. The likes of South Korea, India, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kazakhstan and Malaysia are the countries confirmed so far.”

Selangor state executive councillor Mohd Khairuddin Othman said it was extremely heartening to be able to continue the country’s tradition of hosting major badminton tournaments.

“Badminton unifies us as Malaysians. With the participation of Asia’s top notch players, fans in Selangor as well as in Malaysia and all across Asia, can look forward to some great badminton throughout the six-day competition.”

At the last qualifier held in 2020 in Manila, Indonesia won the men’s team event while Japan emerged as the women’s winners. In the Finals in Aarhus, Indonesia took the men’s trophy while China won the women’s title.

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