Indian shuttlers expected to travel to Malaysia via Doha for Tokyo Olympics qualifier amid travel restrictions

Tokyo Olympics-hopeful Saina Nehwal is yet to make the top-16 cut in the Race to Tokyo rankings
Tokyo Olympics-hopeful Saina Nehwal is yet to make the top-16 cut in the Race to Tokyo rankings
Srijanee Majumdar

India's top shuttlers are likely to travel to Malaysia and Singapore via Doha to compete in the remaining Olympic qualifiers, despite travel bans imposed by the two countries.

India's participation in the Malaysia Open and Singapore Open was in jeopardy after the two countries imposed curbs on travel from India amid soaring coronavirus cases in the country.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) swung into action, reaching out to the respective badminton associations of Malaysia and Singapore to ensure smooth travel for the shuttlers.

"With the current travel restrictions Indian players will not be able to take direct flights. We have checked for via routes and the alternatives are either from Sri Lanka or from Doha and Indian Shuttlers are most likely to travel via Qatar.
"We have written to the respective Associations of Malaysia and Singapore for clarity on what will be the exact regulations that will be applied to Indian shuttlers while they arrive in these respective countries," the BAI said in a statement.

Also Read: Malaysia Open 2021: Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth's Tokyo Olympics hopes at risk; unable to compete due to travel ban

Ray of hope prevails for Saina, Srikanth to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

The development has infused a new ray of hope for former World No.1s Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, who will try to throw their hat in the fray for an Olympic berth.

The recent postponement of the India Open Super 500 reduced their chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. The pressure is heating up for the duo, who are yet to make the top-16 cut in the Race to Tokyo rankings.

Also Read: Analyzing Saina Nehwal's chances at Tokyo Olympics qualification

Saina and Srikanth are placed 22nd and 20th respectively in the rankings ladder. They will now bank on the two remaining Olympic qualifiers to earn valuable ranking points to stay in the qualification race to Tokyo. According to the BWF Council, June 15 will mark the last date of the qualifying period for the Tokyo Olympics.

Sindhu, Praneeth, Chirag-Satwiksairaj well-positioned to make the Tokyo cut

As of now, PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, and the doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy have virtually assured themselves of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. While Sindhu and Praneeth are ranked 7th and 13th respectively, Chirag-Satwiksairaj stands 8th in their respective categories in the Race to Tokyo rankings.

"We have already submitted the travel documents of our Olympic-bound and Olympic probable players ( PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Chirag Shetty, Satwik, Saina Nehwal, Srikanth, Ashwini Ponnappa, and Sikki Reddy) and officials for Visa processing. We are in touch with the Member Associations of Malaysia & Singapore for the necessary documentation,'' the BAI said.

Also Read: Tokyo Olympics 2021: Remaining BWF tournaments for shuttlers looking to qualify

Edited by Sankalp Srivastava
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