PETALING JAYA: National singles head coach Misbun Sidek has called on the International Badminton Federation (IBF) to come to a decision soon on the status of the World Championships to be held in Birmingham.
As he fears the longer the uncertainty drags on, it is bound to have a deeper effect on all the World Championship-bound shuttlers psychologically.
There have been growing concerns that the World Championships may be postponed because of the threat posed by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus.
IBF have said earlier that the prestigious world meet will be held as scheduled as the organisers have promised to take all the necessary precautions and measures. But recent developments could force the world body to change their mind.
There have been new outbreaks reported in China, Hongkong and Singapore recently, the countries hardest hit by the SARS virus and they have players who have qualified for the prestigious world meet. Even Malaysia has not been spared.
However, Misbun said it would be unlikely that the Malaysian players will not want to go if the meet is held.
“I know the players themselves are raring to go into action for the World Championships. They have been training hard since I increased the intensity of the sessions.
“But IBF must decide fast whether they want to postpone the competition or continue as scheduled.
“It is not good for everyone if things drag on. The players will get more worried about whether the meet is on or not and it will affect everyone's concentrations. Not just our own players but participants from other countries as well, especially if they are going with the intention to challenge for titles,” said Misbun.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) secretary Gangga Rao said the players and coaches will be given the opportunity to voice out their opinion on their participation when they meet team manager Datuk Roland Wong tomorrow.
National Sports Insitute (NSI) director Dr. Ramlan Aziz has also been invited to give his medical opinion and the risks of competing in an overseas event.
The World Championships takes place every two years and will be the first competition to offer qualification points for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
It is also the first time that players have to qualify to earn the right to play in the World Championships and over 350 players from 46 countries are expected in Birmingham this time.
IBF will also be holding its annual general meeting (AGM) during the World Championships as well as the World Coaches Conference.
Malaysia will have representation in all five events in Birmingham.
The three men's singles players are world number five Wong Choong Hann, Lee Tsuen Seng and All-England champion Mohd Hafiz Hashim.
The doubles squad will comprise of Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng and Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah. The two pairs were semi-finalists in the last world meet in Seville in 2001.
National champion Wong Mew Choo is the sole representative in the women's singles while Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty will be competing in the women's doubles event.
Choon Eng will team up with Eei Hui for the mixed doubles.