Sindhu hopes to travel to Thailand from U.K. despite COVID-19

Sindhu remains hopeful of travelling to Thailand for tournaments in January despite countries increasingly banning flights from the U.K.

P. V. Sindhu will have to be in Bangkok by January 3 to compete in two Super 1000 events in Thailand. - NAGARA GOPAL (FILE)

Unfazed by the worsening COVID-19 situation in England where she is training right now, world champion shuttler P. V. Sindhu on Tuesday told PTI that she remains hopeful of travelling to Thailand for tournaments in January despite countries increasingly banning flights from the U.K.

Sindhu, who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, has been training in London for the last two months and is scheduled to play her first tournament since the break in Thailand. She will have to be in Bangkok by January 3 to compete in the two Super 1000 events (January 12 to 17 and January 19 to 24).

“I plan to travel in the first week of January. There is no travel ban from U.K. in Thailand, so I can travel from Doha. The idea is to use the Gulf route to reach Thailand,” said Sindhu, who is managed by sports management firm Baseline Ventures.

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Several countries around the world, including India, have imposed bans on flights on the U.K. because of a new and seemingly more contagious strain of the coronavirus in England.

The 25-year-old had left for London in October to focus on her nutrition and fitness at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) and also has been training alongside British shuttlers Toby Penty and Rajiv Ouseph at the National Training Centre.

“Thankfully, my training is going on pretty well. The national centre is not closed. It is run as a bubble centre, so I have been able to practice ahead of the events in Thailand,” Sindhu said.

The Thailand leg will mark the return of international badminton but the country has been dealing with pro-democracy protest movements and has recently seen a spike in COVID-19 cases as well.

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Last Saturday, health officials in Thailand reported 548 new cases, most victims being migrant workers of the seafood industry in Samut Sakhon province, 34 kilometres southwest of Bangkok.

“Cases in Thailand are also increasing, so there is uncertainty about Thailand event too, we really hope that things are under control and the event goes ahead. We need badminton to restart just like other sports,” said Yashwanth Biyyala, Director – Athlete at Baseline Ventures.

The Sports Ministry had recently approved Sindhu’s request to have her personal physio and fitness trainer accompany her to three tournaments in January.

Sindhu last competed in March when she participated in the All England Championship, following which all tournaments were either cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In October, she pulled out of the Denmark Open, one of the only two events to be held since March. The other event was SaarLorlux Open Super 100 event in Germany.

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