Malaysia Open postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic; huge blow for Saina, Srikanth

In a huge blow to top shuttlers including Saina Nehwal from India hoping to qualify for Tokyo Olympics, the Malaysia Open Super 750 has been cancelled.

Saina Nehwal

London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal suffered a setback after the Malaysian Open was postponed. (File Photo)   -  AP

Badminton Association of Malaysia and the Badminton World Federation have jointly agreed to postpone the Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open championship scheduled to start from May 25 to 30, according to a BWF
release on Friday.

“All attempts were made by the organisers and the BWF to provide a safe tournament environment for all the participants, but the recent surge in cases left no choice but to postpone the tournament,” the statement said.

It may be mentioned here that the Malaysian and the Singapore Opens (the second one to follow immediately after the first one) are th last two qualifying events for the Tokyo Olympics to be held this July.

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Importantly, the BWF confirmed that the rescheduled tournament will no longer take place in the Olympic qualifying window.

New tournament dates will be announced at a later date.

This is a big blow to the hopefuls from India including the London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, former World No.1 K. Srikanth and women’s doubles duo Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy.

“Yes, this is a huge blow to our chances. For with the postponement of Malaysian Open and the 21-day quarantine period mandatory for the Singapore Open starting on June 1, it is almost over for us,” said
Sikki Reddy, aiming to  make her first appearance in the Olympics.

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For her part, Ashwini also felt disappointed as this move came close after the India Open in Delhi was postponed last month.

“It is unfortunate just when we were really optimistic of making an impact and gaining crucial ranking points to make the cut thanks to the preparations under Mathias Boe (doubles coach), this postponement
hurt as badly,” she said.

“Well, the Europeans have an edge over the Asians because their Continental championship was over and they pick important points compared to us as we didn’t have it.

“Honestly, we were looking for playing in the Olympics as we have been enjoying the training for the last few months after a pretty showing in the few events we played early this year,” she added.

World championship bronze medallist B. Sai Praneeth, who is assured of an Olympics slot by virtue of his ranking, also rued at missing the opportunity of competing in two majors before the Olympics.

“It would have been great if I were to play in the Malaysian and the Singapore Opens. Luckily, there is no anxiety of playing in them to pick points and I would have definitely enjoyed having real match practice,” he said. Badminton great Prakash Padukone recovering from COVID-19 infection

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