Most sportsmen and women around the world are eager to get back to action after being in lockdown mode due to the global coronavirus. India went into a 6 month shutdown period which resulted in all sports across the country being shut down. All sports training and fitness activities were also banned which made it difficult for sportsmen and women to train and stay fit.
Top Indian Players Do Not Back BWF Efforts
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) was keen to get badminton up and running again in order to give badminton players around the world a chance to compete, make money and entertain the fans. The BWF initially announced that it would schedule 6 tournaments that would take place in 2 continents in a little over 2 months.
The BWF confirmed a number of top tournaments would take place including the Thomas and Uber Cup and Denmark Open. Given the COVID-19 situation, the BWF wanted to create two bio-bubbles and put together stringent standard operating procedures to protect players and support staff who would participate in these events.
However, multiple countries started pulling out of the Thomas and Uber Cup citing safety reasons. Australia, China and Taiwan were some of the countries that dropped out but India remained committed to the BWF and was planning to send a strong squad of players which included Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu.
Saina Nehwal made her concerns clear over social media and it became clear to the Badminton Association of India (BAI) that the top Indian badminton players were not keen on participating. The BWF made the job for BAI easier as they decided to cancel the Thomas and Uber Cup in 2020.
Badminton fans were eager to see the top players take part in the Denmark Open which was scheduled to take place from Oct 13 to 18 in Odense. However, it appears that top Indian players are not going to take part in the Denmark Open.
Nehwal and Kashyap Pull Out Of Denmark Open
Saina Nehwal and her husband Parupalli Kashyap had informed BAI in September that they would be playing at the Denmark Open 2020. However, the due have had a change of heart and decided to pull out.
Nehwal claims that it does not make sense for them to travel all the way to Denmark to play just one tournament due to the COVID-19 situation. Parupalli Kashyap shared the same sentiments and said they were willing to travel to Denmark when the BWF had three tournaments scheduled in the country. They were willing to take the risk to play three consecutive tournaments but now that there is only one, they prefer to skip it.
Nehwal has confirmed that she will take the rest of the year off and will only play in January 2021. The husband-wife due will start 2021 with the Asian tour. Nehwal confirmed that she does not have any fitness concerns and her sole reason for pulling out was due to the risk vs. rewards factor. PV Sindhu has already confirmed that she will not take part in the Denmark Open and it is highly likely that her fans will also see her in action only during the Asian Tour in 2021.
The Indian badminton players that are currently scheduled to make the trip and play in the Denmark Open include Kidambi Srikanth – the number one ranked player in the world, Subhankar Dey, Ajay Jayaram and Lakshya Sen.
The BWF cancelled the Thomas and Uber Cup since it could no longer guarantee the level of competition that fans were used to after 7 countries pulled out. The BWF as of now will proceed with the Denmark Open but if a lot of top players pull out, the BWF could very well reconsider its decision.