India approaches Malaysia government to allow shuttlers for Malaysian Open

The tournament is one of the last events that contribute to Olympic qualification which ends on June 15.

Some of India's top shuttlers, including the likes of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, were expected to feature in this competition- PTI   -  PTI

India approached the Malaysian government on Wednesday to allow the national badminton team to travel for the Malaysian Open badminton championship, scheduled to begin on May 25.

In a late evening communication from the Sports Authority of India, it was informed that the Sports Ministry, through the Ministry of External Affairs, has approached the Malaysian government requesting it to grant permission in this regard.

“This is in light of a temporary travel ban that has been imposed by Malaysia on travellers from India, owing to the rising Covid 19 cases in India,” the statement said.

“After the initial request made earlier this week, the Indian High Commission in Malaysia has received information from the Malaysian Government that the travel of the team may not be possible immediately.  However, with 19 days left for the competition to begin, the possibility of travel cannot be ruled out completely,” the statement read.

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Malaysian Open will be followed by the Singapore Open - scheduled to begin from June 1. Both the tournaments are the last two qualifying tournaments for the Tokyo Olympics.

Some of the top names who are desperately looking to compete in the two Asian events and pick some ranking points to make the cut for the Olympics include London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, former World No. 1 K. Srikanth, doubles duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy.

The others, who are also lined up to play include World champion P.V. Sindhu and the World championship bronze medallist B. Sai Praneeth and men’s doubles pair of R. Satwiksairaj Reddy and Chirag Shetty, who are assured of a slot in the Olympics by virtue of their current world

Former World championship women’s doubles bronze medallist Ashwini said it was a huge blow to their hopes of making it to Tokyo Games. “We had to play in the last two qualifying events and pick some points to qualify for the Olympics. Now, it is almost the end of the road unless the BWF comes up with any changes in the qualification process after  three majors being cancelled (including the India Open in Delhi),” said Ashwini, who is aiming for her third straight Olympics appearance.

Ashwini’s doubles partner, N. Sikki Reddy, said their chances were blown away with the latest development. “Now, since the BWF world rankings will be considered for qualification and not that each country will be allotted one slot in each category, all the preparations which were really good under Mathias Boe (doubles coach) have gone down the drain,” said Sikki, who was hoping to play in her maiden Olympics.

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