In a blow to the badminton Olympic qualification scenario, India Open Super 500 which was scheduled to take place in New Delhi from May 11-16 has been postponed. No new dates have been announced so far. It is now likely to take place only after the Olympics.
Among Indian players, PV Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth are certain to head to Tokyo. The doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy too have all but booked their tickets. It is, however, a blow for former world No 1 Kidambi Srikanth and 2012 Olympic medalist Saina Nehwal who are ranked 20 and 22 respectively in the Race to Tokyo rankings. To qualify they need to feature within the top-16 bracket. With the India Open being struck off, the door now appears to be shutting on their chances.
Now only two Olympic qualification tournaments - the Malaysia Open Super 750 (May 25-30) and the Singapore Open Super 500 (June 1-6) -- remain before the qualifying window closes on June 15.
"The decision was made in consultation and collaboration with local health authorities in Delhi and the Badminton World Federation. All attempts were made by organisers to conduct a safe tournament environment for all participants, but the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and gravity of the situation in Delhi left BAI no choice but to postpone the tournament," the Badminton World Federation said in its communication on Monday.
As many as 13 international players, including Carolina Marin, Ratchanon Intanon, among others, had pulled out of the event a couple of days ago.
"Until yesterday we were prepared to go ahead. But given how rapidly the situation has deteriorated and following the Delhi government's lockdown decision today we were left with no choice," BAI secretary Ajay Singhania said.
The COVID-19 situation in the national capital has detoriated further with cases skyrocketing and health resources under severe strain. New Delhi has gone into a six-day lockdown starting on Monday.