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Badminton World Federation addresses criticism on not prioritizing health of players

Top shuttles have criticized the sports governing body for carrying out with the All England Championship even as COVID-19 virus had spread and started claiming lives.

Badminton World Federation addresses criticism on not prioritizing health of players

The Bridge Desk

Published: 27 March 2020 11:44 AM GMT

A top official from Badminton World Federation (BWF) has addressed the criticism that players have had of the sports governing body.

Top shuttlers have accused BWF of being a money making organisation and not prioritise the health and wellness of the shuttlers.

Many top players including Saina Nehwal and HS Prannoy had lashed out on BWF for not canceling the All England Championship in March even as the COVID-19 had spread across the globe and claimed many lives.

The players had said that BWF had put the players' health at sake as the tournament was not suspended. During the same time frame when the All England Championship was being held, many sports events across the globe were cancelled with immediate effect.

In an open letter, BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said the decision to go ahead with the All England Championships was made based on the best advice at that time. "It has been very disappointing to see some members of the badminton community speculate on the sincerity and motives of the BWF in this time of crisis," Lund wrote.

"Our number one concern has always been the health and safety of all of our participants. However, at the same time, we are deeply concerned about the cancellation of tournaments and the flow-on effect this has on elite players and coaches whereby they could now be in a position of temporary unemployment and loss of income." Lund explained.

Top players had slammed BWF for taking the deadly disease "too lightly" and putting their lives at "risk" by going ahead with the tournament two weeks ago. India's chief coach Pullela Gopichand had termed it a "wrong decision", former world number 8, HS Prannoy called it "stupid". Former top-10 Danish player Hans-Kristian Vittinghus had said he doesn't "get it" why BWF was still continuing with events, while his compatriot Mads Conrad-Petersen was "worried and ashamed" that All England was played under completely normal standards".

However, Lund said it was tough to take decisions in a "fast-changing landscape" where guidelines were revised on daily basis and the approach of different governments was also not consistent. "Given the fast-changing landscape unfolding with governments implementing measures in inconsistent ways and with many considerations and speculations within our own community, it has therefore been challenging to meet all global expectations from all of you," he said.

"Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing. It was not difficult to argue that "wrong decisions" had been taken in an environment changing on nearly an hourly basis, with further decisions therefore required. This has not only been the case for BWF, but most authorities around the world. However, we maintain that BWF made the best possible decisions at the time and with sincere motives to protect both the health and livelihood of all participants. "It is easy to evaluate and come to different conclusions, but BWF is confident this was the right decision for everyone."

BWF had eventually suspended all the HSBC BWF World Tour and other tournaments from March 16 to April 12 before further suspending five more tournaments which included the three continental championships falling inside the the April 26 deadline for Olympic qualification.

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