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India Open: 7 Indian players withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19; Srikanth, Ponnappa in list

Being held in the COVID hub, the India Open is seeing badminton players like Kidambi Srikanth, Ponnappa, Mithun Manjunath, etc test positive for the virus.

Kidambi Srikanth Ashwini Ponnappa India Open covid

Kidambi Srikanth (left) and Ashwini Ponnappa have tested positive for COVID-19 at the India Open 2022 (Source: BAI)



Updated: 13 Jan 2022 4:09 AM GMT

The India Open tournament has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic with as many as seven Indian badminton players withdrawing from the event after testing positive for the dreaded virus, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said on Thursday. Alarmingly enough, quite a few top players, including World Championship silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth and veteran doubles player Ashwini Ponnappa have tested positive, alongside five other Indian badminton players, the Badminton Association of India officials confirmed.

"The players returned a positive result to a mandatory RT-PCR test conducted on Tuesday. Doubles partners deemed close contact of the seven players have also been withdrawn from the tournament," the world governing body said in a statement.

"The players will not be replaced in the main draw and their opponents will be given a walkover to the next round."

The BWF announced the news in the wee hours on Thursday and now BAI has given the list of players who have contracted the virus. Aside from top names Kidambi Srikanth, Ashwini Ponnappa, the list also includes Ritika Thaker, Treesa Jolly, Mithun Manjunath, Simran Singhi, and Khushi Gupta.

B Sai Praneeth, the 2019 world championship bronze medallist, double specialists Manu Attri and Dhruv Rawat had tested positive for the virus ahead of their departure for the national capital and had pulled out before the start of the tournament.

The entire England badminton contingent had also withdrawn ahead of the Super 500 event after the country's doubles specialist Sean Vendy and coach Nathan Robertson tested positive for the virus.

Organized by the Badminton Association of India (BAI), the 2022 edition of India Open is being held behind closed doors at the Indira Gandhi Stadium's KD Jadhav Indoor Hall. As per the COVID-19 protocols, all the participating players are being tested every day at the hotel and outside the stadium.

Two-time Olympic medallist P V Sindhu, World Championships silver and bronze medallists Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen, London Games bronze winner Saina Nehwal are among the Indian players who have reached the second round of the tournament, already.

Among top international stars, world champion Loh Kean Yew, three-time men's doubles world champion Mohammad Ahsan, and Thailand's Busanan Ongbamrungphan are competing in the tournament, which is being hosted for the first time in three years following the cancellation of the last two editions due to the pandemic. Delhi reported 27,561 COVID-19 cases, the second-highest single-day rise since the pandemic began, and 40 deaths on Wednesday.

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