India has been jolted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cricket loving nation has been recording world record daily surges in cases of the deadly virus. The pandemic has hit one and all, let it be the celebrities or the common man, with equal intensity. The worst hit are athletes who have their chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics on events overseas.
A rise in cases in India has prompted many countries to impose travel restrictions on passengers from the Asian nation. This poses a huge obstacle in front of the Indian badminton team who are gearing up for the Malaysian Open 2021 scheduled from May 25 to May 30.
The Sports Ministry, through the Ministry of External Affairs, has approached the Malaysian Government requesting to grant permission to the Indian Badminton Team to travel to Malaysia to participate in the tournament. Following an earlier request, the Indian High Commission in Malaysia has received information from the Malaysian Government that the travel of the team may not be possible immediately.
Indian badminton team may withdraw from Malaysia Open 2021
London Olympics bronze medalist Saina Nehwal and ace shuttler Kidambi Srikkanth‘s hopes of qualifying for the Olympics are stuck in the balance. With 19 days to go for the tournament, there is still hope for the Malaysian government to lift the ban for the Indian team. But if the condition doesn’t improve, the Indian contingent will have no other way but to withdraw from the event.
A press release earlier claimed that the team had withdrawn from the event whereas, officially it has not withdrawn. And it is the prerogative of the Federation to make that decision. PV Sindhu, Nehwal, Srikanth, Sai Praneeth, Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy were among the top singles and doubles players in the country set to feature in the tournament.
Barring Nehwal and Srikanth, Sindhu must have been looking forward to the event to get her preparations right ahead of the games. If the restrictions are not eased, it might prove to be a big blow for India’s medal hopes in Tokyo.