Set for shuttle service: BWF expects good show in Olympics

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Express News Service

CHENNAI: Cancellations, postponements, covid cases among players and an early end to the qualification process. It won’t be an exaggeration to say badminton has had a rough journey ever since the emergence of the pandemic early last year.

Naturally, the authorities running the sport in the world are set to face a stern challenge during the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. And with just 21 days to go, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) is braced for the upcoming test and is certain the event will go smoothly with the guidance of the International Olympic Council (IOC) and the Tokyo authorities.

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“It is going to be a strict Olympic/Paralympic Games, there will be lot of protocols, a lot of procedures. A lot of those procedures are things that we have been doing over the last year in the tournaments we have conducted,” Thomas Lund, BWF secretary general, said in a virtual press conference on Thursday.

Even though there has been a dearth of matches for players in the last year or so, Lund is expecting the quality of contests to be high during the Games. “The list of qualified players will be of the highest standard. We have no concerns with the entries that will come into the Olympics in any event. It will be a fantastic competition, with highest level of players, during unusual circumstances,” he noted.

The world body is set to announce the final list of shuttlers on July 5 and the official draw for the Games is set to be held on three days later. A total of 172 shuttlers from 50 nations will be part of the mega event.  From India’s perspective, PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth (both singles) and the doubles duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will be looking to make a name for themselves during the Games.

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Just a few days ago, the BWF had recently released an updated calendar, giving the shuttlers something to look forward to. India Open, which was postponed earlier this year, and Hyderabad Open did not make the list. The tournaments were finalised taking into account the feasibility of conducting the same. For instance, places that are likely to have less travel restrictions have been picked over those who might have travel hurdles due to the pandemic. Despite charting a plan, Lund admitted that it is impossible to predict if the tournaments will be held as per plan.

“We’re still in an unpredictable world. There might be new situations in different countries. Obviously, if that happens, we cannot 100% ensure that it won’t have any influence on the calendar,” he said.  

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