The Olympics postponement brought some relief but Indian shuttlers, including B Sai Praneeth, are still wondering why the Badminton World Federation (BWF) is yet to freeze the rankings and sought clarity about the qualification process of the Tokyo Games.
The BWF had suspended all HSBC BWF World Tour events post the All England Championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there were calls for the extension of the Olympic qualification period which falls on April 28. But now with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) postponing the Olympics to next year, shuttlers believe it's time BWF immediately freeze the ranking.
"Our points are getting deducted even though the tournaments were postponed by BWF due to the coronavirus. Swiss Open got postponed but my points got deducted. So like this, if they keep slashing the points for all the qualifiers which were postponed, I don't know what will happen," Praneeth told PTI.
"BWF should at least freeze the rankings, later they can decide about the qualification depending on the the dates of Olympics but as of now there is no clarity." Praneeth, who was set to make his Olympic debut, said he is no more sure about his participation as he will have to fight again for points.
"If Olympics would have happened in July, I would have been sure about my qualification but since it is now a year to go, so the qualification process will again be on, so again I will have to fight for ranking points. It is not easy to maintain that ranking, can't say what happens after one year." London Games quarterfinalist Parupalli Kashyap, who along with Saina Nehwal had earlier urged the world body to extend the qualification period, also wondered why it is taking so much time for BWF to freeze the rankings. "Now that the Olympics have been postponed, we have to see what BWF do with qualification. They haven't even frozen our rankings yet. We don't know what will happen. As far as the preparations go, it will still be below par as it's impossible to train fully at home," said Kashyap.
A former top 10 player, H S Prannoy also expressed his concerns. "By the time tournaments starts again my ranking would be close to 100. @bwfmedia is not doing anything to freeze the current rankings," he tweeted on Tuesday.
By the time tournaments starts again my Ranking would be close to 100 ?? @bwfmedia is not doing anything to freeze the current rankings ??????
— PRANNOY HS (@PRANNOYHSPRI) March 24, 2020
Besides Praneeth, women's singles player P V Sindhu and men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy are currently assured of an Olympic berth. Sindhu's father P V Ramana feels BWF should freeze rankings post 2020 All England Championships and then consider the tournaments which would be held next year between March 17 till April 28 as qualifiers for the Tokyo Games. "The situation is very serious and it will hugely impact the Olympic preparation of the athletes because I believe it will take 4-5 months for things to be normal, meaning starting a full-fledged training schedule for next year's Games," Ramana said. "So the only feasible way for BWF is to freeze the rankings till this year's All England for Olympic qualification and carry on with the rest of the calender whenever things improve and play is resumed. "They can then take into consideration the ranking points of the events, which were cancelled this year, but happens next year at the same time keeping the April 28 as the deadline."
PV Sindhu (Image: BWF)
Praneeth also echoed similar views. "I don't think till July any tournament will happen, I mean since they are postponing Olympics, so how can Superseries go on. So BWF have to freeze the ranking, perhaps till All England, otherwise ranking points will continue to be cut for the cancelled/postponed events and it will affect the ranking of everyone. "There is no scope or time to host these postponed qualifiers because the calender have already been decided."
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Wednesday said it might freeze the world rankings for a while as it works on a "fair solution" to the Olympic qualification process after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a postponement of the Tokyo Games.
"For our athletes, we will review any impacts on the Olympic and Paralympic qualification system to ensure a fair solution is found to qualify players for the postponed Games," BWF said in a statement.
BWF, in the short-term, is also looking into the possibility of freezing World Rankings until international tournaments start again. "However, we are still working on the technical solution to ensure the freezing and eventual un-freezing of World Rankings works fairly for all players and we will announce this shortly." Shuttlers in the singles competition have to be inside top-16 of world rankings to qualify for the Olympics. The cut-off for doubles is top-8. The international badminton calendar has been on hold since the All England Championships earlier this month.