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After long hiatus, domestic badminton action returns sans fans

The fans will have to wait to watch the action from close quarters as the BAI has decided to conduct the event without them for now with the pandemic in mind

Published: 15th December 2021 08:22 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th December 2021 08:22 PM   |  A+A-

Badminton

Ansal Yadav and Aakarshi Kashyap are the No 1 seeds in the men's and women's singles, respectively (Representational image | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: After a long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, badminton competition at the domestic level is finally set to make a comeback with the first Badminton Association of India (BAI) series senior meet in Chennai, beginning with the qualification stages from Thursday.

However, the fans will have to wait to watch the action from close quarters as the BAI has decided to conduct the event (being held under a revamped structure) without them for now with the pandemic in mind.

Being organised by the Tamil Nadu Badminton Association (TNBA) under the auspices of BAI, the level 3 event will be held in three venues — Fire Ball Badminton Academy, Smashbounce Korattur and AIEMA Convention centre. The main draw, which commences on December 19, will be played in just two venues — Fire Ball and Smashbounce.

The BAI, during the announcement of the meet last month, had earmarked JN Stadium as the venue but the organisers were forced to pick the aforementioned venues due to unavailability of the former.

Given that this tournament was due for a long time, the organisers are eager for action and hopeful of a smooth affair. "We're delighted. We are happy with the preparations and we hope that we are able to conduct the event successfully. Fans won't be allowed. We're trying to livestream matches on YouTube," said VE Arunachallam, TNBA general secretary.

"Apart from the top 20, most will be participating. We expect Kiran George, who recently finished first during senior trials, to participate too," he added.

With the coronavirus scare far from over, the BAI and TNBA have put guidelines in place to ensure that the event, which carries a prize purse of Rs 10 lakhs, doesn't suffer hiccups.

According to Arunachallam, it is mandatory that all the participants (18 and above) should have had both their vaccinations. If not, they have to bring their RT-PCR negative report, conducted 72 hours prior to participation.

In the venue, no visitors will be allowed. In the tournament venue, only one coach/or one parent will be allowed inside the venue. They can only accompany the players when they're participating and the moment the match gets over, he/she has to move out of the arena.

Needless to say, this tournament will be a great opportunity for some of the top talents in the country to leave an impression and fetch some valuable ranking points. Ansal Yadav and Aakarshi Kashyap are the No 1 seeds in the men's and women's singles, respectively. Kartikey Gulshan Kumar, Kiran, Malvika Bansod, Ashmita Chaliha are some of the budding stars in the singles department who'll be looking for net gains during the competition.

"Most of the players have dedicated their lives to the sport and for two years they were not able to do much. A player who was 18 years in 2019, 2020 would have been his/her final junior tournament. However, due to no tournaments, they had completely lost out on crucial ranking points, their seedings. It becomes very difficult to take part at the senior level now. Now, they'll need to prove themselves to get themselves into the main draw and regain ranking points. They're all eager to get back and see where they stand. So this is a huge break for everybody," Arunachallam said.

The qualifying matches, which will be conducted across 18 courts, will start in the morning at 9 am and are expected to go until 9.30 pm.



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