International badminton's governing body, Badminton World Federation (BWF), has come out with another statement to apprise fans and the media about the actions being taken in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak or COVID-19 epidemic in China, which has already led to the cancellation of a series of events.
The biggest question facing the organisation is the impact that the cancellation of these events will have on the qualification system for the Tokyo Olympics. Most of the cancelled events were part of the qualification calendar of the BWF and their postponement to a later date, beyond the scheduled cut-off for the Olympics, could adversely affect the players.
On this, the organisation states:
“It is unfortunate that some tournaments have been postponed or cancelled and BWF appreciates that these tournaments have been part of players’ plans to seek qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and other tournaments where qualification is required (such as the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals).
“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.
“The postponement or cancellation of tournaments is not within the control of hosts, BWF or the badminton community, but is caused by ongoing developments as a result of COVID-19 in different areas of the world and decisions will be taken based on information provided by public health authorities.”
This statement comes as very bad news for a player like Saina Nehwal who is struggling to make the cut for the Olympics and needs to get some victories to improve her chances. The cancellation of the German Open, a Super 300 World Tour event, has already lessened her chances.
There is also a danger of the highly-prestigious All England Open, which is slated to be held next month, being affected. This will be an utter travesty but it also shows the vulnerability of sports in the face of events that are of a much greater magnitude.