Olympic qualifying events called off due to coronavirus


(Reuters) – The last five tournaments in the qualification period for the Tokyo Olympics have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said on Friday.

The All England Open, played from March 11-15, was the final event to count towards Olympic qualification, with rankings at the end of April deciding which players will be at the Tokyo Games.

The BWF faced heavy criticism for continuing with the Birmingham tournament and subsequently suspended all tournaments until April 12 due to the spread of the flu-like virus.

The Croatian International, Peru International, European Championships, Asia Championships and Pan Am Individual Championships in Guatemala City were the latest April events to join the list of canceled tournaments.

“All five tournaments were slated to be played within the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifying period, but will no longer contribute to Olympic qualifying as they will now fall outside the qualification window,” the BWF said in a statement.

“BWF will make a further announcement on any implications related to the Olympic qualification period at a later date.”

The coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year, has killed more than 10,000 people worldwide, bringing sporting events around the globe to a standstill.

Some badminton players had urged the sport’s ruling body to consider extending the qualification period for the Tokyo Games.

“The escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak globally has led the BWF, in close consultation and consensus with its continental confederations and host member associations, to confirm the suspension of these tournaments,” the BWF said.

“Heightened travel and quarantine restrictions and the subsequent extreme logistical complications this has caused also contributed to the suspension.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ed Osmond