Sindhu, Saina to compete for first time since COVID-19 break; BAI announces squad

The team, consisting of Olympic-bound shuttlers P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, B Sai Praneeth, to name a few, will begin their campaign with the Yonex Thailand Open.

Ace shuttler P.V. Sindhu during a training session at the SAI-Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.   -  FILE PHOTO/ RITU RAJ KONWAR

The twice-cancelled $400,000 India Open will be the final Olympic qualifying event that takes place in New Delhi from May 11 to 16, 2021.

As per the tournament schedule released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Monday, points earned from 17 tournaments - commencing with the Swiss Open (March 2-7) and culminating with the India Open - will help the players stake their claims for a berth in the Tokyo Olympics.

It was also announced that All England Open (March 17-21) and Malaysia Masters (April 6-11) will not be part of the Olympic qualifying cycle, popularly known as “Race to Tokyo.” The qualification to the Games will be based on the “Race to Tokyo” rankings published on May 18. These will also be used to determine seedings for the Olympics Games.

SAI approves Sindhu’s request for travelling with coach and physio

Squad announced

Meanwhile, an Indian team consisting of P. V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy will travel to Bangkok for two back-to-back million-dollar Thailand Opens, from January 12-17 and January 19-24.

Though the BWF World Tour Finals will follow from January 27-31, the chance of an Indian participant looks remote. Only B. Srikanth, placed eighth in the BWF World Tour rankings, has some chance to cement his place in the eight-player draw.

BAI cautions players, coaches, staff against participating in unauthorised tournaments  

World No. 7 and defending champion Sindhu is ranked 22nd - five places behind Saina Nehwal - and looks unlikely to make the cut. Till last season, the defending champion enjoyed an automatic entry into the next edition of the Finals. However, in October, a change in BWF regulations forced Sindhu to search for World Tour points, in order to be among the top-eight ranked players who play in the cash-rich season-ending finale.

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