The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of various badminton tournaments in 2020. However, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has now mapped out more than 20 tournaments for the first half of the 2021 season until the Tokyo Olympics in July.
Most of them will be Qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics. The qualification period for the Tokyo Games will restart with the Swiss Open in March and end in May with the India Open.
The new-look BWF 2021 calendar sees several tournaments postponed from Quarter 1 to Quarter 2, and a few Grade 2 tournaments canceled.
Qualification Tournaments for Tokyo Olympics
The final qualification list for the Olympics will be determined from the Race to Tokyo rankings, which will be published on 18th May 2021. BWF Council has decided that this ranking list will also be used for seedings in the Tokyo Olympics.
Reduction in Prize Money
Bearing in mind the financial burden due to COVID-19, the BWF has announced a support package for tournament hosts. The hosts also have the option of reducing the total prize money. Super 1000 events can be $850,000 instead of $1.1 million, while Super 750 will have prize money of $600,000 instead of $750,000. Super 500 events will cost $320,000 instead of $400,000.
Moreover, the BWF has decided not to have qualifying rounds for all Super 500 and Super 300 events.
Also, for Grade 2 events, the BWF has pledged to assist financially in carrying out COVID-19 protocols such as testing, safety, and cleaning, apart from providing masks and sanitation equipment.
Where are the Indian shuttlers placed in the Race to Tokyo Rankings?
A few Indian shuttlers are in contention to secure a berth at the Tokyo Olympics, provided they perform consistently in the upcoming tournaments.
Sai Praneeth is the only Indian men's singles player in the top 16 of the Race to Tokyo Rankings. PV Sindhu, who is ranked 7th, is the only women's singles player in the top 16.
Furthermore, the young duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are most likely to feature in their maiden Olympics as they are ranked 9th in the list of men's doubles.
Few other players like Srikanth Kidambi, Saina Nehwal, and HS Prannoy can still make it through if they do well in the qualifiers.