Race to Tokyo 2020: Saina, Kashyap cry foul over cancellation of BWF tournaments
With the days remaining for qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics hastily reducing, the cancellation of tournaments is adding to the worries of shuttlers who are on the brink of making the cut into the top-16.
Indian shuttlers and husband-wife duo of Parupalli Kashyap and Saina Nehwal have criticized the Badminton World Federation (BWF) decision to cancel the German Open in fear of the coronavirus epidemic.
With the days remaining for qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics hastily reducing, the cancellation of tournaments is adding to the worries of shuttlers who are on the brink of making the cut into the top-16. Parupalli Kashyap took to Twitter to voice his pressing concerns about qualification and Saina Nehwal was soon to retweet it and match hers as well.
I wanted to address another topic regarding the situation with the Coronavirus and the Olympic qualification period and the no. of tournaments which are doubtful to be held . We all had 7 events starting from Spain masters until the Singapore open n few have the Asian Champs too.
— Parupalli Kashyap (@parupallik) February 29, 2020
In the light of the coronavirus outbreak, the BWF has slashed out the German Open while the Swiss Open, Singapore Open and Malaysia Open are also under threat of being canceled due to the rapid onslaught of the virus. The coronavirus has wreaked rampage particularly in China where the death toll has risen to 2835 already, with the numbers steadily increasing.
However, tournaments being canceled can never be good news to the Indian shuttlers as a fair number of them are yet to qualify for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Saina, who was the first Indian shuttler to bag an Olympic medal has not been enjoying her best form and is currently ranked at the 22nd spot. For making it to Tokyo, she must be playing in tournaments to rise in the rankings and enter the Top 16 at any cost. Keeping such concerns in mind, Nehwal retweeted saying, “Qualification period can b extended if the tournaments are getting cancelled cause of #coronavirus @bwfmedia @iocmedia.”
— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) February 29, 2020
Kashyap, who is ranked at 24th also has a lot of covering up to do if he intends to head to Tokyo. He took to Twitter to voice his opinions about the cancellation of tournaments and pleaded for the postponement of the qualification dates. “Now that German Open is cancelled and Swiss Open looking doubtful and Singapore and Malaysia Opens also with the same worries, it will be completely unfair for so many athletes who are on the borderline of qualification at this moment,” tweeted Kashyap.
In a further slew of tweets, Kashyap said, “7 events are a lot of events considering the best 10 performances in a qualifying period are chosen. If at all the virus is contained and slowly everything comes back to normalcy in a few months and the Olympics takes place on same dates then BWF and IOC have to revise and extend the qualification dates and make sure they add on the events later or make it a fair qualification,” he mentioned in one.
Furthermore, Kashyap inquired, “I understand that everything has to be assumed at this moment but I hope all the athletes have a fair chance to qualify for the Olympics. Many players were injured in the last year when the qualification period started and now if they’re fit and hope to do well in the next events, what happens to their qualification chances if most the events are doubtful as of now,” he said in yet another tweet.
The BWF in a statement had mentioned, “Any change to the existing Olympic qualification rules will affect different players both positively or negatively, and with the present level of postponement and cancellation, BWF does not believe that making changes is appropriate,” they said, which is a severe case of worry for shuttlers who are eager to qualify.
The tension in the Indian camp is definitely on the rise with the final days for qualifying rapidly approaching. Only PV Sindhu, who is ranked at 7th can relax a little and Sai Praneeth, who is placed at the 11th spot, can also breathe easy. For the rest of the players, the countdown has started and it’s high time for them to step up their game.