Governing body of world badminton (BWF) said it might freeze the world rankings for a while as it works on a “fair solution” to the Olympic qualification process after the COVID-19 pandemic already forced a postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
#BREAKING: #BWF fully supports decision made yesterday by @iocmedia & @Tokyo2020 to postpone #Tokyo2020 and is finalising plans to freeze World Rankings with a final solution to come soon. Read: https://t.co/JDfjzwJHcU#COVID19 #badminton https://t.co/5M9VEPKruk— BWF (@bwfmedia) March 25, 2020
Indian Ace shuttlers Saina Nehwal, B Sai Praneeth, Experienced Parupalli Kashyap and HS Prannoy have been leading the way in expressing concerns.
“For our athletes, we will review any impacts on the Olympic and Paralympic qualification system to ensure a fair solution is found to qualify players for the postponed Games,” the BWF said in a statement. “BWF, in the short-term, is also looking into the possibility of freezing World Rankings until international tournaments start again.
“However, we are still working on the technical solution to ensure the freezing and eventual un-freezing of World Rankings works fairly for all players and we will announce this shortly.”
Shuttlers in the singles competition have to be inside top-16 of world rankings to qualify for the Olympics. In doubles, a country can field one pair if they are in the top 16 and two if both pairs are in the top eight.
The BWF welcomed the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s decision to postpone the Olympics, originally scheduled from 24 July to 9 August, to next year in the wake of the pandemic, which has caused nearly 19,000 deaths worldwide.
“Today, we stand in solidarity with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in welcoming the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the statement said.
“BWF fully supports the decision made yesterday by IOC President Thomas Bach, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, and the Tokyo Organising Committee (TOCOG) to reschedule the Games to a date beyond 2020 but no later than summer 2021. As we have learnt in recent months, balancing the many necessary considerations for the whole of sport has been a complex exercise, so we are supportive of how difficult this decision would have been for the IOC and TOCOG,” further added.
The BWF had earlier this month suspended all the HSBC BWF World Tour and other tournaments from 16 March to 12 April before further suspending five more tournaments which included the three continental championships (2020 European Championships , Badminton Asia Championships 2020 , XXIV Pan Am Individual Championships 2020) falling inside the 26 April deadline for Olympic qualification. Another BWF super 1000 event of 2020, Indonesia Open submitted a schedule resignation to September in line with the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We are still at this point left with some uncertainty on new dates for the Games but we ask for patience from the entire badminton community to allow the BWF, in collaboration and consensus with the IOC, IPC and TOCOG, to gain a better understanding of what the next 12 months will look like,” BWF said.
The coronavirus outbreak has so far infected more than 4,00,000 globally, deaths over 19 thousand already , BWF said all that matters now is the well-being of the badminton fraternity, including the athletes and officials.
“We have strong considerations to protect the key structures of our sport that will ensure it survives in these volatile and uncertain times. We appreciate that an important part of this is the livelihood of our international badminton players in the current situation where very few tournaments will be played over the coming months,” said BWF in their statement.
“Right now, our immediate thoughts are with everyone affected by this global pandemic. From the start, the health, safety and wellbeing of all athletes, their entourage, officials and the greater badminton fraternity have been our No.1 priority,” BWF said.