India Open badminton to go ahead behind closed doors

YONEX-SUNRISE India Open 2020

NEW DELHI: The YONEX-SUNRISE India Open 2020 Super 500 tournament, a crucial event for the Tokyo Olympic qualification, will be held as per schedule, but behind closed doors without spectators due to the global novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Badminton Association of India and Badminton World Federation (BWF) jointly made the announcement after BAI consulted experts over the past few days regarding advisories issued by the health authorities in India.

The $400,000 tournament was under threat in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has claimed over 4,000 lives and infected more than 100,000 people globally.

BWF statement in full:
"The YONEX-SUNRISE India Open 2020 to be staged in New Delhi from 24-29 March will go ahead as planned.

"Enhanced precautionary measures will be in place to ensure the welfare and safety of players, their entourage, and officials.

"This includes the likelihood of the tournament being staged behind closed doors without spectators.

"The Badminton World Federation (BWF) and Badminton Association of India (BAI) confirmed the decision after BAI consulted experts over the past few days regarding advisories issued by the health authorities in India.

"BWF accepts that all relevant health, safety and logistical risks have been considered in this process.

"The tournament is a Super 500 event on the HSBC BWF World Tour and falls within the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifying period.

"BWF is continuing to monitor all official updates on Covid-19 (Coronavirus) with no change to the intention to stage other HSBC BWF World Tour or BWF-sanctioned tournaments at this stage."

BAI general secretary Ajay K Singhania told PTI: “The India Open will be held as planned at the KD Jadhav stadium in Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium but to ensure safety of everybody we have decided not to allow any spectator this time. 

“Fans can watch the matches on youtube for the initial days while Hotstar will show the matches from quarterfinal onwards.” 

The cornavirus outbreak has already forced the postponement of four Olympic qualifying badminton events so far - Lingshui China Masters (February 25 to March 1), Vietnam International Challenge (24-29 March 24-29), German Open (March 3 to 8) and Polish Open (March 26-29).

After the India Open, the Malaysia Open World Tour Super 750 (March 31-April 5) and Singapore Open World Tour Super 500 (April 7-12) are the only two major events which fall inside the April 28 deadline for Olympic qualification.

PTI further adds:
Given the health hazard, the Indian government has suspended all regular visas/e-visas granted on or before March 3 to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan who have not yet entered India.

The government has also made a 14-day quarantine mandatory for the people coming from Republic of Korea, Iran and Italy to India.

According to the advisory, passengers arriving directly or indirectly from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan must undergo medical screening at the port of entry.

The draw of the Indian Open includes shuttlers from most of these countries, including a number of top Chinese players such as He Bingjiao, Shi Yu Qi and Lin Dan, who were cleared to participate in upcoming BWF World Tour tournaments in Europe.

Many top players such as two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, London bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and Rio Olympics quarterfinalist Kidambi Srikanth are racing against time to book their ticket to Tokyo.