What's the story?
Indian shuttlers Parupalli Kashyap and Saina Nehwal have requested the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to extend the qualification period for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. This is in view of a significant number of tournaments getting cancelled due to the outbreak of Coronavirus.
In case you didn't know
The qualification for the badminton events at the Tokyo Olympics is based on the "Race to Tokyo" BWF World Rankings. These rankings consider the performance of players in tournaments staged in the Olympic qualification period from 29th April 2019 to 26th April 2020.
As per the qualification rules, a maximum of two players each can represent their countries in the men's and women's singles badminton events at the Olympics as long as both are in the top 16 ranked players in the world.
While Saina Nehwal is currently ranked 22nd in the women's singles category, there are a host of men's singles players - Kidambi Srikanth (21st), Sourabh Verma (23rd), Parupalli Kashyap (24th) and HS Prannoy (27th) who are among the top 30 ranked players but are not within the top 16.
Heart of the matter
A number of tournaments in the BWF World Tour have either been cancelled or are doubtful to be held due to the threat of Coronavirus outbreak. With the Olympic qualification period nearing its end, the players who are on the cusp of the qualification positions have been denied an opportunity to improve their rankings due to the cancellation of these tournaments.
Keeping this in mind, Indian badminton stars Parupalli Kashyap and Saina Nehwal have urged the Badminton World Federation to extend the timelines of the Olympic qualification period.
Kashyap took to Twitter to provide an update on his recovery from the back injury he had suffered at the Spain Masters badminton event and then followed it up with a series of tweets requesting the BWF to consider extending the qualification period for the Olympics.
Corroborating Kashyap's opinion, even Saina requested for the qualification period to be extended as she believes the tournament cancellations are unfair on the players who are on the verge of qualifying for the Olympics.
Also check out: the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Schedule
Earlier, the BWF had mentioned that they would not be making any adjustments to the Olympic qualification period despite a number of tournaments being cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus.
"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"
They added that the cancellations were not within the control of the BWF and were done on the basis of inputs from public health authorities and they could not do anything about it.
"The postponement or cancellation of tournaments is not within the control of hosts, BWF or the badminton community, but is caused by the 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"
It seems unlikely that the BWF would be making any changes to the Tokyo Olympic qualification period despite many of the tournaments getting cancelled.
Saina, Kashyap and the other Indian badminton stars who are on the cusp of qualification will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the remaining tournaments to ensure their qualification for the quadrennial showpiece event.
Also check out: the Tokyo Olympics 2020 medal tally