Badminton World Federation criticized by players after forced to play All England Championship despite Covid-19

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New Delhi: Badminton World Federation was criticized heavily by players after they were forced to play the All England Championship despite the outbreak of Covid-19 around the globe. More than a week ago, several Indian shuttlers like PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Lakshya Sen were participating in the United Kingdom while the world was fighting with the growing pandemic. Recently it was reported that Taiwanese athlete, who was present on the sidelines of the tournament, has tested positive for COVID-19.

A Taiwanese media report was shared by Danish shuttler Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, which said that a 10-year-old Taiwanese sports student, who is believed to be the Taiwanese national team’s sparring partner and was present at the premises of All England Badminton Championships, was tested positive for the disease on Friday. The report further stated that the diagnosed person used to take the bus with the Taiwanese national team.

There were several Indian shuttlers HS Prannoy, Sameer Verma and Sourabh Verma and 4 other Indian shuttlers who decided to pull out of the championship due to the pandemic. Prannoy has now lashed out at the BWF officials for deciding to go ahead with the tournament. He said that the current BWF officials are taking stupid decisions and are not worried about the welfare of the badminton players.

“I chose to stick to my decision considering the amount of travelling we need to do. Only the players travel in business class, our support staff will be travelling in the economy class and we cannot avoid contact with them,” the eighth-ranked shuttler told Times of India.

“In my opinion, BWF officials are making stupid decisions. Even after conducting All England there was uncertainty over the remaining tournaments. It was only after the players’ strong reactions on social media that BWF decided to postpone the remaining tournaments. The BWF were so adamant to conduct the tournament. They could have at least avoided the spectators,” he added.

“Compared to other sports, the money involved in our sport is way too low. If the top football leagues in the World can stop their matches, why can’t our federation take such a decision? BWF officials are least bothered about players’ health. They are only worried about money. BWF were ready to conduct the Malaysia Open and Indian Open. They said that they will conduct it in closed door, but they were not willing to hear our woes and strains. They didn’t have an answer when asked what will happen if one of the players will be affected with COVID-19,” said the 27-year old.

The Badminton World Federation suspended five more tournaments, including three continental championships crucial for Tokyo Olympics qualification but stripped of that significance now, given the COVID-19 pandemic in the host cities.

The announcement came a week after the BWF put a halt to all of its events till April 12. “...a further five tournaments have also been cancelled or postponed,” the BWF said in a statement.

“This includes the suspension of the three Continental Confederation championships scheduled for week 17 on the BWF Tournament Calendar – one of the last chances for athletes to gain qualification for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games before the April 26 deadline,” it added.

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