India is ranked second on the list of countries that have the most number of COVID-19 cases. It looks like COVID-19 is not going way anytime soon and the Badminton Association of India (BAI) expects there to be COVID-19 challenges going into the first half of 2021.
Relax Quarantine Period In India
The Indian government like most governments across the world have a 14 day quarantine period to test and see if an individual is positive or negative for COVID-19. BAI wants the Sports Ministry of India to make an exception for this quarantine period when it comes to the India Open in 2021.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju met with Ajay Singhania, general secretary of BAI and the two discussed in detail the plans to host the India Open in 2021 which will cost BAI close to $400,000. Singhania requested permission for the quarantine period of 14 days to be reduced for all players and staff who are attending the India Open.
The India Open is set to take place at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi. The tournament will take place from 30 March to April 4 and will see all of the top Indian players and star players from around the world take part.
India Open Qualifier Event To 2021 Olympics
Ajay Singhania said that he highlighted the fact that the India Open was a crucial event in the badminton calendar as this event will serve as a qualifying event to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Singhania said the 14 day quarantine period will be an issue for a lot of players and has asked for the quarantine period to be scrapped on one condition.
If players can show a negative RT-PCR test taken within 3 days of their departure, they should get their quarantine period waived. A number of badminton players from all over the world who are yet to qualify for the Olympics are likely to try and play the India Open and make a bid for Olympic qualification.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) had earlier fixed the India Open for December 2020 but this had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 situation in India. Both BWF and BAI are keen to host this event as per the scheduled dates in 2021.
Singhania stated that he had also sent in a written request to the Sports Ministry and has the assurance of Minister Rijiju that he would do whatever he can to help the India Open take place.
Governments can bend the rules when it comes to important sporting event. Abu Dhabi decided to bend their quarantine rules during the 2020 IPL when BCCI secretary Jay Shah, son of Union Home Minister Amit Shah requested Abu Dhabi officials to make an exception to the quarantine period. India could very well end up doing the same for the India Open 2021.
BAI Facing Multiple Challenges
BAI has had its fair share of hurdles to face in 2020 like most sports organizations in India but with one big difference. While sports organizations like the BCCI and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) received full cooperation from their players to get sports up and running after COVID-19, Indian badminton players were not too keen to play in the midst of the pandemic.
BAI wanted Indian players to travel to Denmark to play the Thomas and Uber Cup in 2020 and the Denmark Open. However, top players like PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal expressed concern over the decision to travel overseas and play at a time when COVID-19 was not under control.
BAI was not pleased with the response and in the end the Thomas and Uber Cup was cancelled as multiple countries pulled out. BAI needs to make sure everything is in order in India and has the backing of its own players before proceeding to pull off a major event like the India Open in 2021.