New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) The India Open Super 500 tournament, one of the last three qualifying events for the Tokyo Olympics, was on Monday postponed due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The USD 400,000 India Open was scheduled to be held behind closed doors in the national capital from May 11 to 16.
'Considering the current challenges, BAI is left with no option but to announce the postponement of the tournament for the time being,' Badminton Association of India (BAI) general secretary Ajay Singhania said at a virtual press conference.
The 2020 edition of the India Open was cancelled after it was initially postponed from March to December.
'It is unfortunate that we had to postpone it for the second time. But I am confident when situation will improve, we will conduct the tournament properly.
'The fresh dates has still not been decided. That is something BWF will let us know in time.' India have reported 2,73,810 new positive cases in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day surge taking the country's caseload past the 1.5 crore mark. As many as 1,619 people have succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours.
Delhi has emerged as the worst hit city with 25,462 cases reported on Sunday.
Given the grave situation, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced a six-day lockdown starting tonight till next Monday.
'Delhi is going into a lockdown from tonight and we don't know what would happen next and what would be the impact,' Singhania said.
'Situation is very grave and so after several rounds of discussions with BWF as well as the Delhi Government and other stakeholders and accessing the safety of players and officials, BAI took this decision.' With COVID-19 cases rising, many top players, including Olympic champion Carolina Marin, former world champion Ratchanok Intanon and Denmark's duo of Anders Antonsen and Rasmus Gemke had withdrawn from the Olympic ranking event.
'We had an entry of 228 players and close to 300 peoples gathering including coaches, support staff and officials but many top players have withdrawn and the circumstances are such that India Open seems for now a very risky affair,' Singhania said. Syed Modi Super 300 event, which was slated for November 17 to 22, was also cancelled in the revised calendar last year.
BAI also said 'training schedule for Olympic-bound shuttlers and probables will continue but rest camps will be postponed' in light of the situation.
BWF had earlier postponed the Malaysia Super 750 (May 25-30) and Singapore Super 500 (June 1 to 6), making the events the last two Olympic qualifiers before the qualification period ends on June 15.
Asked when are the Olympic bound shuttlers likely to get vaccinated, he said: 'Four days back we had a meeting, even sports minister was there and all agreed to get the vaccination done for our shuttlers but there is no deadline as such.' PTI ATK BS BS