India’s badminton players have had little to no competitive tournament action from March 2020. Once COVID-19 hit and caused a major lockdown in India, badminton players like all other sports players in India were restricted from playing competitive sport, practicing or training.
The big difference between badminton and other popular sports like cricket and hockey was that these sports resumed training and competition after August 2020. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) tried to get a number of top tournaments up and running including the 2020 Thomas & Uber Cup but multiple nations pulled out.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) did not pull out but top badminton players including PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal were reluctant to travel overseas due to COVID-19. BWF ended up cancelling the 2020 Thomas & Uber Cup and India’s badminton players continued to be happy to not subject themselves to any risk and sit on the sidelines.
Players Ready For 2021
India like many other countries has tried to get back to normal even though the COVID-19 situation is still not under control. Now, the top badminton players in India are looking to get back into action and are making big plans for the first half of 2021.
The first big tournament that will take place in Jan 2021 will be in Thailand. There are two Super 1000 events along with the World Tour Finals that is scheduled to take place between 12 to 31 January. Top Indian players will make the trip to Thailand and hope the long layoff in 2020 will not have a major negative impact on their skills and performance.
The Badminton Association of Thailand has confirmed that it will put in place strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) to create a bio-bubble and ensure that players in the bubble are protected at all times.
Once these events are over in Thailand, India players will want to take part in the qualifying games for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The first of the 2021 qualifiers will commence with the Swiss Open that starts on March 2 to 7. Indian players who are still looking to qualify will fly to Germany next for the German Open which runs from March 9 to 14.
There will be a total of 17 Olympic qualifying tournaments for players to get enough points to make the Olympics. Some of the other top tournaments taking place in the first half of 2021 include the Malaysia Open Super 750 which runs from March 31 to April 4 and the Singapore Open Super 500 which runs from April 13 to 18.
BAI Warns Players Against Playing In Goa
After sitting on the sidelines in 2020, Indian badminton players are now very keen to get as much match practice under their belt before they play at international events in Thailand and Switzerland.
This is why the National Federation Cup in Goa is getting a lot of attention. This will be the third edition of the tournament which will take place in Jan 2021. The tournament is being organized by the Youth & Sports Development Association of India but it is not sanctioned by BAI.
BAI and the Goa Badminton Association have no ties to the National Federation Cup. This is why BAI has sent out a stern warning to badminton players and asked them to not participate in this tournament.
BAI also cautioned players of false advertising and some of the promotional work for the National Federation Cup claimed that players who do well will be selected for international events which BAI claimed is not true.
BAI said players who take part in the National Federation Cup will have their BAI ID’s deactivated and will not be able to take part in any official BAI tournaments going forward.