CHENNAI: As the number of Covid cases rise, uncertainty over tournaments too has grown manifold. On April 4, India recorded 1,03,558 new coronavirus cases, the highest so far. Not a happy stat, especially for National Sports Federations hopeful of regaining some form of normalcy during pandemic and getting vital competitions under their belt. On Monday, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) said they have postponed the senior (level 3) tournament that was supposed to be conducted in Bengaluru from April 18 owing to virus concerns. As for the India Open, it is as per schedule as of now.
The tournament was supposed to be a return to competition in the country after a long break for players at the senior level. More importantly, BAI too could have got some experience of conducting an event during pandemic ahead of the India Open (May 11-16), an international tournament which has crucial Olympic qualifying points at stake. After receiving close to 2000 entries from across India and rising cases in Bengaluru and Hyderabad BAI was compelled to take this decision. The junior and sub-junior events scheduled to be held in May have also been postponed.
According to BAI, in the current situation the hosting of all competitions scheduled in April and May is untenable. “In the interest of the players and officials we have decided to postpone the senior ranking even in Bengaluru and the other two other events in Mysuru (May 11-17) and Hyderabad (May 3-9),” Ajay Singhania, BAI general secretary, told this newspaper. “There are a lot of restrictions in place, including travel, in Bengaluru and the rising number of cases made us take this decision,” he said. “The health of the athletes is paramount. Our president felt this is the right thing to do.”
Omar Rashid, BAI secretary (events), told the postponement was made after discussion between the BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma, secretary and other stakeholders. “We were forced to take the present scenario into consideration.” Despite growing concerns, the BAI said India Open, which is scheduled to be held in New Delhi, will go ahead as per plan. “There is no change in plan as of now,” said Singhania. “We are on course and taking care of all details that need to go into organising such an event is going on as per schedule.”
However, Singhania said the matches will be played behind closed doors and entry will be restricted and closely monitored. “As of now we have decided to host it without spectators,” he said. “We will create a bio-bubble and all players and officials will be part of it.”
There were certain issues regarding travel restriction on players from Europe, especially from England, who are mandated for a minimum of seven-day quarantine, the BAI secretary said, they are working closely with the ministries concerned and the Delhi government on this. “We are working on it for an amicable solution.”