Badminton players around the world have mixed feelings about the Badminton World Federation (BWF) kick-starting tournaments in the midst of the on-going coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. BWF announced earlier this month that the international season will resume with six tournaments taking place across 66 days in 2 continents.
BWF will follow similar protocols as the NBA, IPL and NFL in creating bio-bubbles to protect players and staff from COVID-19. Denmark will play host to the Thomas and Uber Cup which is set to take place from October 3 to 11.
Seven Teams Have Dropped Out So Far
The Thomas and Uber Cup is one of the most prestigious tournaments in badminton as nations from all over the world take part each year. This year, as many as 7 nations have already pulled out from the tournament citing safety concerns due to COVID-19. The countries that have so far withdrawn from the tournament include Australia, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
Even though 7 countries have pulled out from the tournament, the BWF is keen to proceed with the Thomas and Uber Cup. India have confirmed their participation in the tournament and believe that their road to the final will be a lot easier given the fact that a number of countries have dropped out.
In the Uber Cup, India find themselves alongside France, Germany and China in Group D while in the Thomas Cup, India are in Group C alongside Denmark, Algeria and Germany.
Some of the players who are expected to travel to this tournament include superstars PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, Lakshya Sen, Parupalli Kashyap, doubles pair B Sumeeth Reddy, Manu Attri, former world number one Kidambi Srikanth. Top duo Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will also be in attendance.
Indian badminton players have mixed feelings about traveling to Denmark to play in this tournament. One of those players is Saina Nehwal.
Saina Nehwal Questions India’s Participation
Saina Nehwal took to Twitter to express her concerns about playing in the Thomas and Uber Cup. She pointed out that 7 countries have already withdrawn from the tournament and asked whether it was safe to conduct the tournament when the coronavirus continues to be a threat worldwide.
The BWF has put in place strict procedures to ensure that players and staff will remain in a bio-bubble during the tournaments. The players will also be subjected to multiple COVID-19 PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests before each tournament begins.
Pullela Gopichand, the national coach for India has voiced his support for the Thomas and Uber Cup. He admits that there are risks involved when organizing a global tournament in the middle of a pandemic but also believes it is the right move as it will encourage other players to step out and start playing again.
National Badminton Camp Cancelled
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) sanctioned a national training camp in Hyderabad for players to start practicing in preparation for the tournaments in Denmark. The camp was expected to run from Sep 7 to Sep 27. Badminton players from all over India were expected to fly in, quarantine themselves for 7 days and then start training.
However, there were multiple issues raises by both the players and staff. PV Sindhu did not want to train with the rest of the team and asked for an exception to come in early and leave before the rest of the players started training. Some players asked for the 7 day quarantine period to be reduced.
In the end, SAI decided to cancel the badminton camp and now players will have to fly in directly to Denmark with no training camp. India will not drop out of the Thomas and Uber Cup. We will have to wait and see if Saina Nehwal makes a sudden withdrawal.