Indian shuttlers on Friday questioned the rationale behind scheduling 22 events in just five months in a revised BWF calendar, saying the “stupid” planning will increase the injury risk. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) unveiled a revised international calendar to salvage the remainder of the season, disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwaltook to Twitter to express her doubts. “22 tournaments in 5 months from August to December 2020...5 months non stop travel ... the biggest question is what are the international guidelines of travelling during this #coronavirus pandemic??,” she wrote on her handle.
Praneeth, who is a front-runner in qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, was equally unimpressed. “It is stupid to expect players to play 22 tournaments in five months. They are not thinking about players. BWF president is an Olympic champion, so they should have thought how can players play week after week. Even a fit player can’t play so many tournaments, it will surely lead to injuries. I didn’t expect this from BWF,” said Praneeth, a World Championship men's singles bronze medal winner.
“People are thinking of travelling less in these times, it seems BWF didn’t think whether players can play or not, they are just thinking about themselves. They should have realised the Olympic qualification criteria instead of the schedule. There is still no clarity, why we will play so many tournaments, right now everyone is thinking about the Olympics, and how will they count ranking,” he added.
Chirag Shetty, who along with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy won the Thailand Open Super 500 and reached the finals of French Open Super 750 last year, also slammed the BWF's revamped calendar. “I was taken by surprise that there are 22 tournaments in five months. All of them are the ones we usually play. From September till December not a single week left out. Even last year we played 17-18, we played all 500, 750 and 1000 and two 300 events, even if we do that in the months to come, we have to play every week. It is stupid. They should have given some break,” he said. “Also Syed Modi event is colliding with Indonesia Super 1000, both are in the same week. So for us, we won’t be able to play our home tournament because we can’t miss a 1000 event, so it is plain stupidity. They shouldn’t have crammed up so many tournaments.”
With travel restrictions due to the coronavirus still in place, Chirag felt the situation has left players more confused tha ever. “I don’t think India will start international travel anytime soon, so it confuses the players. I don’t think there is any clarity. They could have taken more time to decide. The main thing is how they will unfreeze ranking and Olympic qualification,” he asked.
The top Indian shuttlers train at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad and the chief national coach Pullela Gopichand himself was unsure about restart of training. “We will have to wait until May 31. We will go by the central and state government directives. As of now, Telangana government has extended the lockdown till May 31 and no sports are allowed in any stadiums,” he claimed.