Indonesia badminton team pulls out of World Championships

Concerned over the rapid spread of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, the Indonesian badminton team has decided to pull out of the BWF World Championships starting in Huelva, Spain on Sunday.

Indonesia badminton team pulled out of BWF World Championships.   -  AP

Concerned over the rapid spread of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, the Indonesian badminton team has decided to pull out of the BWF World Championships starting in Huelva, Spain on Sunday.

"The Indonesian badminton team has withdrawn from participating in the 2021 BWF World Championship, which will take place in Huelva, Spain, on 12-19 December 2021," Badminton Indonesia wrote on its Twitter handle on Wednesday.

"With this decision, the Indonesian team will immediately prepare for the tournament in 2022." The All-Indonesian Badminton Federation (PBSI) said on Wednesday that the decision was prompted by the spike in cases due to the spread of the Omicron variant in European nations.

"We don't want to take any risks. Athletes' safety and health are paramount. We have also discussed with the players and they agreed to withdraw from the World Championships," PBSI development and performance division head Rionny Mainaky said.

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"In addition, there is also an appeal from the government of the Republic of Indonesia, in the midst of a pandemic that has not subsided, to reduce travel activities abroad. Moreover, in a number of European countries, there has also been a rapid spike in Covid-19 cases."

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed the development but also expressed their disappointment at the decision.

"BWF is disappointed with the decision by PBSI and regret that the withdrawal took place after the draw," the apex body said in a statement.

"However, BWF and the Spanish Badminton Federation are now focused on delivering a safe and successful World Championships in line with the advice and measures put in place by the local and national health authorities, including a comprehensive set of safety protocols for all players, team officials and key stakeholders."

The tournament will lose a lot of sheen with the withdrawal of the Indonesian team which boosts of top seeds Kevin Sanjaya-Marcus Fernaldi, second seeds and defending champions Mohammad Ahsan Hendra Setiawan and sixth seeds Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto in men's doubles.

In men's singles, fifth seeded Anthony Ginting and seventh-seeded Jonatan Christie and Olympic champions and sixth seeded women's doubles pair of Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu will also be missing in action.

Last year, Indonesia had withdrawn from the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark due to the COVID-19 pandemic but ended up winning the Thomas Cup for the first time in 19 years after the event was postponed to October this year.

The India participation is confirmed with defending champion PV Sindhu having flown in directly from Bali for the event.

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