The New Zealand badminton team has pulled out of the 32nd edition of the Thomas Cup Finals beginning in Bangkok from May 8 after a number of their players tested positive for COVID-19. The USA badminton team will replace New Zealand in group D in the prestigious tournament.
"Team New Zealand has withdrawn from the BWF Thomas Cup Finals 2022 due to a significant number of their squad being unable to participate," the game's governing body BWF said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Team USA confirmed their participation and will take their place in Thomas Cup Group D alongside Japan, Malaysia, and England." Although the BWF didn't elaborate on the reasons behind the unavailability of Kiwi players, Badminton New Zealand said the decision was taken following a number of COVID cases among the players.
"During the recent Oceania Championships, and in the subsequent days after this event, several New Zealand players have tested positive for COVID-19. This has resulted in a severely depleted team, with the possibility of additional positive cases detected upon arrival in Thailand," Badminton New Zealand said in a statement.
The Oceania Championships was held in Melbourne from April 28 to May 1. "The difficult decision to withdraw the team was made, considering all factors, and putting player welfare at the forefront of our thinking. "We are focused on supporting the remaining New Zealand players in Australia and getting them home safely, as soon as possible."
Indonesia are the defending champions in Thomas Cup. The Indian men's team has been clubbed alongside fourth seeds Chinese Taipei, Germany and Canada in group C of the Thomas Cup.