No change to Tokyo badminton qualification despite coronavirus impact


MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Badminton World Federation said on Friday it is not making any adjustments to the Olympic qualification period despite a host of events being impacted by the coronavirus in the leadup to the Tokyo Games, which start in July.

The flu-like disease has infected 80,000 people and killed almost 2,800 in China, while it has jumped to about 50 countries and territories beyond mainland China.

“It is unfortunate that some tournaments have been postponed or canceled 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,” the BWF said in a statement.

“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.”

A badminton Olympic qualifier scheduled for Vietnam from March 24-29 was postponed to June on Tuesday due to “strict health protection restrictions in place in Vietnam”.

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

The 2020 German Open, which was to be held in Muelheim an der Ruhr from March 3-8 and was an Olympic qualifier, was canceled while the 2020 Polish Open, another Olympic qualifier scheduled to be held in Krakow from March 26 to 29 was postponed and fell outside the Olympic qualification period.

The BWF said it has published a series of frequently asked questions related to coronavirus and its impact on the sport, including the implications on the players when a tournament is canceled or postponed.

All other tournaments on the BWF calendar within the Olympic qualification period are scheduled to run, the world governing body added.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise