Badminton: Covid-19 forces two clusters in world badminton

PETALING JAYA: The badminton World Tour calendar, which has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, has been downsized from the planned 16 tournaments in 16 weeks to just two clusters – one each in Europe and Asia. Each cluster will have only two tournaments, for a total of four. These will be in addition to the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark, from Oct 3-11 and the World Tour Finals in December.

Denmark have also been given the honour to organise the two meets in the European cluster – the Danisa Denmark Open 1 (Oct 13-18) and Denmark Open 2 (Oct 20-25). This will ensure players already in Denmark for the Cup Finals do not need to travel.

The two tournaments in Asia will be held from Nov 10-15 and Nov 17-22 but the world body have yet to confirm the host country.

BWF are sticking with their plan to host the World Tour Finals but have yet to decide on the venue.

The decision on who qualifies for the World Tour Finals will also be made later as the world rankings are currently frozen.

The top eight in the world rankings in all events – men’s and women’s singles and doubles and the mixed doubles – usually qualify for the Finals.

With the changes announced yesterday, there will be a two-week transition period to move the tour from Europe to Asia, allowing for the required quarantine.

BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said the decision to revise the competition calendar was unavoidable.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was not possible to implement the revised international tournament calendar for the World Tour as originally planned, ” said Lund.

“Managing travel logistics between different territories with quarantine rules in place was the biggest challenge. Therefore, an adjusted tournament calendar was developed.

“Our main concern has always been the health and safety of all participants. We have created safety protocols and operating procedures to guide us in this process.

“We look forward to the return of international badminton and we thank all parties involved in the planning process.”

With the announcement yesterday, the much-awaited Malaysia Open, scheduled from Nov 24-29 at Axiata Arena, is off.

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