New Delhi: The Malaysia Open badminton tournament has been postponed due to a recent COVID-19 surge in the host country, the organisers said on Friday.
The USD 600,000 event was scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur from May 25 to 30.
“All attempts were made by the organisers and BWF to provide a safe tournament environment for all participants, but the recent surge in cases left no choice but to postpone the tournament,” the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and global body Badminton World Federation (BWF) said in a joint statement.
“BWF can confirm the rescheduled tournament will no longer take place in the Olympic qualifying window. New tournament dates will be confirmed at a later date,” the statement added.
The Super 750 event on the HSBC BWF World Tour was one of badminton’s last two Tokyo Olympic qualifying events and the decision came as a huge setback for Indian stars like Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth.
Following the postponement of the India Open (May 11-16), Saina and Srikanth’s chances to secure Olympic berths hinged on the Kuala Lumpur event followed by the Singapore Open (June 1-6).
Notably, both Singapore and Malaysia have suspended all flights from COVID-ravaged India.
However, Badminton Association of India (BAI) has written to both the member countries, requesting them to allow some Indian players as a special case with respect to the Olympic qualification.
According to BAI, the matter has been taken up with BWF as well and they are awaiting Badminton Malaysia’s response.
Indian shuttlers who have already made the cut for the Olympics include PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth and the men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.
Besides the quartet, Srikanth, Saina and the women’s doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa were expected to participate in the two Olympic qualifiers.