Despite the looming shadow of a third wave, a doubling of reported cases in the past four days and a weekend curfew, Delhi is set to host the India Open Super 500 tournament with the cream of the crop. Indian badminton – PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth and Lakshya Sen – is expected to compete at the IG stage.
New men’s singles champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore has already arrived for the competition Jan. 11-16, where he is seeded fifth.
Indonesia’s top doubles duo of former Olympic medalists Hendra Setiawan and Mohamad Ahsan, as well as top Malaysians Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi, also flew to the first World Tour event of the year at which around 220 players are expected to participate.
But with just two days to go, a sense of dread prevails as India’s biggest badminton tournament, canceled in the past two seasons, will not be fully covered by a ‘bio-security bubble’. While international stars and top Indians will be accommodated in a sanitized tournament hotel, a large number of players not making the top 25 in the world rankings will be outside this loosely controlled arrangement.
The hosts of the Indian Badminton Association (BAI) said they were “doing everything humanly possible to organize a tournament in safety”, and the event had received the green light from the Delhi government, which been consulted by the global body BWF when making a request if the tournament is to take place.
The cost of official hotel accommodation for the top 25, and all other international players, is borne by the organizers while the remainder should be spent out of their own pocket, which put the tournament hotel out of reach for the most part.
“Most of the players have started arriving in New Delhi for the tournament. Foreign players as well as Indian players, ranked in the World Top 25, will stay in the same hotel. All participating players will take the necessary safety precautions upon arrival in New Delhi according to protocol, and will be tested daily at the hotel and from there they will have shuttles to come to the stadium, play matches and leave again. at the hotel, ”BAI said in a statement.
The association has partnered with a hospital to perform rapid antigen testing outside the stadium before anyone is allowed into a secure, three-level gaming arena. In addition, Denmark has already organized tournaments in a similar format.
As French, Russian and Canadian players withdrew from the fray, the England squad withdrew after doubles specialist Sean Vendy and coach Nathan Robertson tested positive before flying away from the UK Friday.
BWF commentator Steen Scheichler also tweeted about a last-minute appeal against travel after he tested positive. And, Indian B singles star Sai Praneeth and fellow player Dhruv Rawat tested positive ahead of Hyderabad’s departure and were removed from the event.
It is learned that a large number of withdrawals could eventually accumulate from the initial entry list of three months ago. The final table will be clear when the managers’ meeting takes place on Monday, as invitations have gone all the way to No.40 on the reserve roster.
Sindhu is leading India’s charge and will most likely be challenged by world number 12, Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan, who posted a photo from Bangkok airport on Saturday, captioned “Wish me luck”. World Champion Loh Kean Yew posted a photo from his hotel room with the words: “Finally here.”
The draw is full of Indians, with some in desperate risk of traveling and playing in search of the valuable Ranking Points available under these anomalous circumstances.
A mandatory, daily Covid test for all players, match officials, BWF and BAI officials, support staff, suppliers and others involved will take place outside the stadium. “It is only after they have tested negative that they will be allowed to enter the room. BAI will not compromise on the safety of players as well as others involved, and will follow all Covid-19 guidelines given by the government, ”the statement read.
On Sunday, the capital reported 22,751 new cases with a positivity rate climbing to 23.53%: 79,954 RT PCR and 16,724 rapid tests were performed and 17 deaths were reported even as the daily number of cases doubled compared to 10,665 on January 5.