Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal has been asked to withdraw from the Yonex Thailand Open after testing positive for COVID-19. She was set to play competitive badminton after almost a year-long pandemic-forced hiatus. The tournament began on Tuesday at the Impact Arena, Bangkok.
Saina tested positive for the dreaded virus in the third Test which was conducted on Monday. She has been asked to be in isolation in a hospital for a minimum of 10 days. She also shared a video on social media in which she is seen being tested.
Saina was to face Japanese player Nozomi Okuhara in the first round. However, the entire Japanese contingent had pulled out of Yonex Thailand Open due to COVID-19 concerns. Hence, Saina was to get a bye in her first match.
Notably, Saina had recently recovered from COVID-19 and was keen on returning to form with the Olympic qualifications in mind. PV Sindhu and Saina didn’t participate in Denmark Open Super 750 and SaarLorLux Super 100. They were the only two events which could be conducted since BWF was forced to suspend the calendar after the completion of the All England Championship in March.
HS Prannoy also tests positive
On January 6, all 824 participants in the Green Zone quarantine bubble had tested negative for COVID-19.
The Green Zone consists of players and their entourage and all stakeholders who come into direct contact with them, such as umpires, line judges, personnel from Badminton World Federation (BWF), Badminton Association of Thailand, medical staff, and TV production crew.
“All international Green Zone participants were required to submit a negative in their own country before departure to Bangkok and were then tested again in Bangkok upon entry into hotel quarantine,” BWF had said in a statement.
However, another Indian shuttler HS Prannoy has also tested positive for COVID-19. Fellow Indian player and Saina’s husband and her roommate, Parupalli Kashyap has been kept under observation at the hospital. “Today’s match featuring the roommate of this player has also been declared a walkover. That player is in self-quarantine and also subject to another test today,” BWF said.
“Each individual is subject to daily testing until further notice from the Department of Disease Control, but players can continue to play upon producing a negative result,” the statement said. “India players scheduled to play today will be allowed to come to the venue. No coaches, managers or other personnel from Team India are allowed,” it added.
“The entire Indian team has been categorised high risk by Thai health authorities and all players and team entourage are currently self-quarantining in their rooms at the hotel and will be subject to a PCR test today,” BWF said.
Now, PV Sindhu is the only Indian in the women’s singles draw in the roster.