Coronavirus forces postponement of badminton Olympic qualifier


(Reuters) – Badminton’s Vietnam International Challenge has been put back from next month to June on concerns over the coronavirus epidemic and will no longer serve as a qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics, the Badminton World Federation said on Tuesday.

The flu-like disease has infected 80,000 people and killed 2,663 in China, while it has jumped to about 29 countries and territories beyond mainland China.

The tournament was due to take place from March 24 to 29 but has been pushed back to the first week of June.

“The decision was made on the advice of the Vietnam Sports Administration linked to strict health protection restrictions in place in Vietnam,” the BWF said in a statement.

“Considering the new 2-7 June date, ranking points from this event will now no longer contribute to Olympic qualifying as it will be outside the qualification window.”

The outbreak also led to the postponement of the Lingshui China Masters badminton tournament earlier this month, with that event also dropped from the Olympics qualifying process.

“The BWF is continuing to monitor all official updates on Covid-19 and is mindful that HSBC BWF World Tour and other BWF-sanctioned tournaments may be affected, but there are no concrete plans or decisions at this point to change the status of any other events,” the world governing body added.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Hugh Lawson