Oly badminton qualifiers: Blow for Indians as Malaysia Open postponed

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS): The chances of several Indian badminton players hoping to qualify for this year's Tokyo Olympic Games were dealt a body blow on Friday as the Malaysia Open Super 750 tournament was postponed.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) also announced that the tournament would no longer be an Olympic qualification event, leaving June's Singapore Open Super 500 as the only remaining Olympic qualifier where players will have to perform well to qualify.

Reigning world champion PV Sindhu, 2019 World Championships bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth and men's doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are the Indians who are hoping to qualify based on their ranking in the BWF's 'Race to Tokyo' standings.

Those placed within the top 16 of the standings in singles gain automatic qualification and in doubles, those within the top eight go through. Sindhu and Praneeth are ranked seventh and 13th respectively while Rankireddy and Shetty are eighth.

Among Indians who remain in contention for qualification are former singles world No.1 players Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth and, to a lesser extent women's doubles pair Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy. Saina is ranked 22nd while Srikanth is 20th. Ashwini and Sikki are 26th, 14 places below the qualification ranking.

The Singapore Open is scheduled to be held from June 1 to 6 while the Olympic qualification period ends on June 15.

"Tournament organisers Badminton Association of Malaysia and Badminton World Federation have jointly agreed to postpone the Malaysia Open 2021, scheduled for 25-30 May 2021," said the BWF in a statement on Friday.

"The Malaysia Open 2021 is a Super 750 event on the BWF World Tour and was originally scheduled as an Olympic qualifying tournament. BWF can confirm the rescheduled tournament will no longer take place in the Olympic qualifying window. New tournament dates will be confirmed at a later date," it said.



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