In a surprising turn of events, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth‘s hopes of qualifying for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in July are officially over. An official release by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed that there will be “no further tournaments will be played inside the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifying window.” This means there will be no change in the rankings meaning the duo will not be on the flight to Tokyo.
“The Badminton World Federation (BWF) can confirm no further tournaments will be played inside the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifying window.“
“As such, while the qualification period officially closes 15 June 2021 as per the Revised Tokyo 2020 Qualification System, the current Race To Tokyo rankings list will not change. Invitations will be sent shortly with final participation lists and seedings to be published at the conclusion of this process,” the BWF release said.
Cancelation of Singapore Open turns out to be a crushing blow for Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth
The BWF took the decision of canceling the Singapore Open 2021 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases around the world. The event was the last hope for Nehwal and Srikanth as only a great performance in the Super 500 tournament would have seen them sneak through to the Olympic Games. London Olympics bronze medallist Saina is ranked 22 in the Road To Tokyo rankings and Srikanth is at No.20.
BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said that the qualification process is in effect closed. “The Olympic qualification process is in effect closed as there are no additional opportunities for players to earn points. However, we still need to receive confirmations from National Olympic Committees and Member Associations, followed by any possible reallocations, and this will take a number of weeks to complete.”
A player needs to be in the top-16 of ranking before June 15 to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. With this, only PV Sindhu qualified from India in the women’s singles category while Sai Praneeth will be the lone Indian in the men’s singles. Men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will play in their first Olympics. In all, only four Indian shuttlers qualified for the premier event.
The absence of the duo is a huge shock to India’s medal hopes at the Tokyo Games. Both Nehwal and Srikanth were taunted as one of the brightest medal prospects of the nation. The new development comes with tremendous pressure for Sindhu and Praneeth, them being India’s lone representatives in the event.