Indian and international badminton stars have questioned the need for the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to continue conducting tournaments at a time when sports bodies around the world are suspending or postponing competitions due to coronavirus pandemic.
The World Health Organisation on March 11 declared the rapidly spreading disease a global pandemic with the rate of its spread showing no signs of stemming around the world. In the days since, a number of athletes have tested positive leading to cancellations, suspensions and postponements of matches and tournaments.
The spread of the disease has wreaked havoc on the qualification calendar for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Kashyap suggested that the current ranking be frozen and a decision be made on it on a later date.
“Things to be done by @bwfmedia 1)Suspend all tournaments immediately 2)Freeze the current ranking and decide on qualification on a later date,” Kashyap tweeted.
Players in particular expressed their displeasure over lack of clarity on the upcoming Swiss Open, which is scheduled to be held from March 17 to 22.
“No statement from @bwfmedia, no statement from @yonexswissopen, so many withdrawals happening from Swiss open n still they’re keen on conducting the event . ??? What is happening man ? Unbelievable,” Kashyap said in another tweet.
Former world no.1 Kidambi Srikanth replied on a thread put up by Danish player Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in which he was listing reasons as to why it is no longer safe for professional badminton players to tour the world.
“I agree with you and @bwfmedia should think about players safety,” said Srikanth in his reply.
Ajay Jayaram also retweeted Vittinghus saying, “Wake up @bwfmedia !! This thread by @hkvittinghus is spot on! SUSPEND PLAY IMMEDIATELY. Extreme measures taken all over the world and the badminton federations step is to ‘stop shaking hands’ . WTH!?!? (sic.)” he said.
Saina Nehwal retweeted Vittinghus’ thread saying, “I dnt get it too @bwfmedia #CoronavirusPandemic.”
The BWF had put out a list of FAQs on COVID-19 on March 11 in which it had stated that the objective for the hosts of a tournament is to ensure it is conducted as scheduled “unless public health authorities in that country provide a directive to not stage the tournament.”
It also said that it was not at the time planning to make any adjustments to the Olympic qualification period, something which Kashyap and Saina had publicly asked to be extended earlier in the wake of the cancellation of the German Open and uncertainty around a number of tournaments in the coming weeks.