International badminton returned after coronavirus-forced break on October 13 with Denmark Open but only four men's singles players in Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen, Shubhankar Dey and Ajay Jayaram participated. Thereafter, the Indian contingent could not play Saarlorlux Open in Germany after Lakshya's father tested positive for coronavirus. PV Sindhu is yet to get back on the court in a tournament and is aiming to return with the Asia tour in January 2021.
Sindhu said the indoor settings of badminton makes it difficult for the organisers to ensure absolute safety in these times even though they are trying their best. India's badminton queen said every tournament will have different sets of rules and regulations and there will be some fear in people about what to do and what not to do.
"Badminton started with the Denmark Open and it went well. In Germany, of course few players couldn't participate but they are trying. Being an indoor stadium, a sport where shuttle travels both ways, they have to make sure that too many people are not there. People want audiences, and players miss the encouragement they get from an audience. It's sad that we won't have an audience but that is the world we are in and we have to get used to it.
"Badminton as an indoor sport, we have to take a lot more precautions. Everyone has to be tested, players stay in different hotels, everyone arrives at different times, it is not like a team sport. So, everything being put in one place, it's hard. Hopefully, we will be starting with the Asia tour in January," Sindhu said in an interaction with News18.com.
Sindhu trained at home throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, then for a bit at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad and now is in England for some work on body analysis and nutrition.
"It's about nutrition and science. As you know, it is very important for us to take care of our nutrition so that is what I am working on. I came for the Gatorade thing. Mostly we don't get much time so I thought this was a good opportunity for me to work on my body analysis and nutrition. I think this is the right time since we will start playing from January again and I won't have much time," she said, adding that she has not yet decided when she would return to India.
Sindhu gave a mini-heart attack to all her fans on Monday when she made the "I Retire" post. In the post she said she was not retiring from the game but from the fear and negativity surrounding the coronavirus. Sindhu shared that the idea behind the post was her decision to let go of the inhibitions surrounding the virus after she used Hindustan Unilever's product range 'Nature Protect'.
"When I used the products, I did feel they were unique and something we need right now. When I practice and then I have to clean my racquet, there is a spray for that. There are wipes which you can use before sitting anywhere. There is a vegetable cleaner, which is really good. I really liked these.
"That post was for retiring from the negative and the Nature Protect helps in that. It is something that is really needed in these times in looking after your safety. People need to have these things whenever they go anywhere, especially for me who travels a lot," she said.
Sindhu further shared what it was like when she and the other top badminton players returned to practice after things started to reopen following the Covid-19 lockdown. She said she was taking extra care of her and her surroundings' hygiene.
"Everyone was training from home so were actually waiting to get back to court. So yes, I was very happy. A lot of people came and we got tested and we made sure we kept our distance and kept the court clean and sanitised. I was training only with my coach two hours in the morning. I wasn't training with the others. I used to make sure everything was clean. I got my own shuttles. This is how I used to train."
Sindhu said she was looking forward to the Olympics next year in Tokyo even though she was initially sad when the Games were postponed due to Covid-19. She added that it was important to stay positive in these moments.
"Initially when it was just a couple of months and the Olympics was postponed, I felt a bit sad. But then I felt life comes first and that we have to see our safety. I just thought I will work hard for a year and let's see. After that everything got cancelled and in one way, everybody felt sad about missing tournaments. But at the same time, it is also a different feeling not playing for months and we got to learn new things and start knowing our mistakes and work on them. So that is also an advantage."