Most of the major sports and sports leagues in the world have resumed their seasons after being in lockdown for nearly 4 months due to COVID-19. Cricket, football and basketball have resumed their seasons by creating bio-bubbles and playing in empty arenas.
However, not all sports have restarted their season and badminton is one such sports. Badminton players from all over the world have remained frustrated as they have not only been unable to play competitive badminton but have also been unable to train.
Pullela Gopichand Lauds BWF Efforts
Badminton players in India and around the world will be happy to learn that the Badminton World Federation (BWF) is finally ready to resume its season. The task is going to be difficult but BWF has decided to proceed by scheduling 6 tournaments spread across 2 continents over a period of 66 days.
India badminton national coach Pullela Gopichand said it was great to see the BWF take the initiative and come out with a great schedule. Gopichand said that putting together 6 events in 66 days will involve a lot of challenges during COVID-19 times but the standard operating procedures will provide safety and security to both players and staff.
Gopichand confirmed that all of the top Indian badminton players will take part in these 6 tournaments. He does not believe that all countries will encourage their players to participate in these tournaments. However, if the BWF manages to pull of these 6 tournaments successfully, it will encourage more countries and players to venture out and start playing again.
BWF Season Will Resume With Bio-Bubble
BWF will follow a similar format as the Indian Premier League (IPL) and NBA by creating a bio-bubble in two continents to give players a safe environment. There will be stringent rules in place that players and support staff will have to follow at all times.
The first tournament will be the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark which will run from October 3 to 11 and be followed by the Denmark Open I, Super 750 which has $750,000 in prize money up for grabs. The next tournament after this will be the Denmark Open 2, Super 750 which has another $750,000 waiting to be won.
Players will get a break for two weeks before the competition moves into Asia. There will be two USD 1 million Super 1000 tournaments which are often referred to Asian Open 1 and Asia Open 2. The season will then end with the World Tour Finals (WTF) which will have a whopping $1.5 million in prize money. The WTF will take place at an individual location which is yet to be finalized by the BWF.
BWF Has Strong SOPs In Place
The BWF has put together stringent SOPs to ensure that it can pull of all 6 tournaments without any hiccups in a 66 day period. Some of these measures include the standard social distancing protocols and wearing masks.
However, there are much more rigid regulations which include how many players can be in a warm-up zone, how to pick up a shuttle, only one coach allowed to sit behind a player and service judges wearing gloves.
BWF is also paying special attention to transport arrangements and will most likely have chartered flights for players when they travel from Denmark to Asia. BWF has asked players and staff to remain in the bio-bubble at all times. They have been advised not to return to their home countries after the Denmark stop as they would then have to undergo a 14 day quarantine period.
All players will have to undergo a COVID-19 PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test before the start of each tournament. No quarantine period in Denmark is required, just a negative COVID-19 test report upon arrival.