Indian shuttlers are reconsidering their plans to travel to Denmark and play in the one-off Denmark Open, with PV Sindhu likely to decide closer to the last date of entries. With the Thomas Uber Cup (TUC) deferred to an undecided date in 2021, Sindhu is still contemplating if travelling to Odense will be feasible.
Large scale withdrawals from top nations had marred the TUC lead-up, and Indonesia’s pullout was seen as the final tipping point for organisers to call off the tournament in October.
While the world reacted with disappointment at badminton struggling to take off at the TUC in Aarhus scheduled for early October, hopes of a resumption are alive with Denmark Open on schedule. However, with the team unlikely to head to Aarhus, top Indian shuttlers are rethinking their travel.
“See, we need to look at all aspects and will decide only on September 27. We’ll look at the Covid-19 situation in Odense closer to the tournament date while carefully weighing it against points that we can gain by winning. We’ll also see who else is playing the Denmark tournament and sit with coaches and BAI. There is no need to act reckless with Olympics next year. That’s the big medal,” PV Ramana, Sindhu’s father, said. Sindhu played the second round at Denmark last time, and is defending those points, which are not part of the Olympic qualification or seeding process.
Lakshya Sen confirmed he would travel to Denmark as originally planned, while Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap (unfunded), were yet to decide on their travel. “Not yet decided,” doubles shuttler Sikki Reddy too said.
With the second Denmark Masters tournament cancelled, this will be a one-venue pitstop, while the Asian leg is still being firmed up with multiple locations under consideration. While players’ consent is being sought on indemnity and waivers forms, it is learnt that a few more withdrawals are likely from the Denmark event.
Meanwhile, BWF were left with little choice but to cancel after reluctance from Asian powerhouses to travel. While Indonesia and Korea as well as Thailand struck a body blow to chances of the sport resuming, the growing cloud over Japan and China’s participation pushed the event to the brink.
“The decision comes following the withdrawal of a number of participating teams from the TOTAL BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals and the European leg of the adjusted HSBC BWF World Tour. BWF in collaboration with Badminton Denmark, has for many months been preparing for a safe return to international badminton. This includes going to extreme lengths to preserve the health and safety of all participants such as implementing a bubble system to create a safe badminton ecosystem. However, in view of the recent COVID-19 related developments around the world, a number of teams and individual players have elected not to travel to Denmark for tournaments in Aarhus and Odense; a choice the BWF has to respect and acknowledge. These are exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in and while a return to international badminton remains a priority for the BWF, the health and safety of the entire badminton community is of utmost importance,” a statement read.
Badminton Association of India’s general secretary Ajay Singhania, said: “BAI has been supporting BWF in its efforts to restart international badminton. However, we stand by this decision taken by BWF considering the challenges in the ongoing time and the health and safety of all concerned.”
While Danish top player Anders Antonsen said badminton risks withering and dying if no competition is held, Nozomi Okuhara quipped that 2021 was likely to be busy with 4 Majors: Olympics, Sudirman Cup, Thomas Uber Cup and World Championships.
While Indians like PV Sindhu were relieved they wouldn’t need to risk travel, men’s singles shuttler Subhankar Dey said it defied reason that badminton couldn’t take off while football and tennis had resumed.
Nozomi Okuhara’s tweet reply to BWF’s update about the postponement said, “I’ll be busy next year!”
Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying took off into the nearby national parks on Saturday and spotted a monkey sprawled lazily on the branches of a tree, likening it to an earlier post-training snapshot of her’s from a gym.
While tensions about the fate of Thomas Uber Cup raged on in Malaysia, the BWF headquarters and at ground zero in Denmark, over a nervy weekend, badminton’s most enchanting sorceress, found herself some amusement.
On a nature’s trail on Saturday, she spotted a slothful monkey resting leisurely on a tree branch, a resting pose she found not dissimilar to her own resting pose at a gym from July 27.
Chinese Taipei were the first country to withdraw from the Thomas Uber Cup. There was outrage among shuttlers in Europe over Asian countries’ reluctance to travel.