Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal’s hope of appearing in this year’s Tokyo Olympics are all but over, with India’s withdrawal from the Malaysia Open badminton tournament on Thursday. Due to the second wave of Covid-19 spread in India, Malaysia has banned travellers coming from India. The ban came into effect on April 28, 2021. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) said, “The Indian badminton team has temporarily pulled out of the Malaysia Open to be held from May 25 to 30 due to travel restrictions by the Malaysian government.” This was one of the last few events that contribute to Olympic qualification which ends on June 15.
As a consequence, the Indian Badminton Team will have to withdraw from the Malaysian Open. All top Indian singles and doubles players like PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy were due to participate. The Sports Ministry, through the Ministry of External Affairs, approached the Malaysian authorities requesting to permit the Indian team to participate, but due to the rise in Coronavirus cases in India, the Malaysian government has informed the Indian High Commission in Malaysia that the travel of the team cannot be presently permitted.
PV Sindhu confirmed for Tokyo Olympics
Thus far only PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth and the men’s doubles team of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy have secured their Olympics berth owing to their superior rankings. Sindhu is ranked 7th, while Prannoy is ranked 13th and Chirag-Satwiksairaj are placed 8th in their respective categories. The top 16 badminton players as per the Race to Tokyo list to be published on June 15 will earn a direct berth at the Olympics. Currently, Saina Nehwal is ranked 22nd while Kidambi Srinakth is placed 20th, they would at least had to qualify for the quarters to boost their chances of Olympic berth.