What's the story?
Looking at the growing threat of coronavirus, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) withdrew its participation from the 2020 Badminton Asia Team Championships in Manila, Philippines. Earlier, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal had decided to skip this tournament for Tokyo Olympics 2020 and now, the entire Indian women's team has pulled out of the competition.
One week ago, BAI had declared India's squads for the men's and women's events at the Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020. Since this tournament would not have benefited the duo of Sindhu and Saina too much, they skipped the tourney. BAI picked a second-string team for the competition which featured Ashmita Chaliha and Malvika Bansod as the leaders.
The coronavirus has affected a lot of areas in China and, it has had a massive effect on the sporting events scheduled to take place in the nation as well as the areas surrounding it.
The heart of the matter
As reported by PTI on Friday (7th February), the Indian women's team is no longer a part of the multi-nation tourney which will begin from 11th February. BAI confirmed their withdrawal with the following statement:
"Unforeseen health hazard apprehension due to the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in withdrawal of the women's team for the upcoming Badminton Asian Championships, which is starting from Feb 11-16, 2020 in Manila, Philippines."
The statement further revealed that the board had talked about this situation with the concerned authorities before taking this decision. BAI's statement continued:
"Badminton Association of India (BAI) had reached out to the concerned authorities in Badminton Asia (BA) for assurances regarding the current situation and necessary health advisory and precautionary measures taken."
BAI secretary general Ajay Kumar Singhania disclosed that the men's team has agreed to visit Manila despite the coronavirus outbreak. He stated:
"After receiving complete assurances from BA, BAI had discussed the same with the Indian squad, the men's team agreed to travel and confirmed their participation, however, the women's team was withdrawn owing to concerns showed by parents and players."
It will be interesting to see how the Indian men's team performs in the Badminton Asia Team Championships as the Olympics qualification of the elite players depends on this tournament.