Change of Plan for China to send Shi Yuqi & 10 Others to India Open

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Shi Yuqi is working hard to earn more qualifying points for Tokyo Olympics. (photo: Fred Lee/Getty Images)
Shi Yuqi is working hard to earn more qualifying points for Tokyo Olympics. (photo: Fred Lee/Getty Images)

Beijing: Just as China’s badminton players are about to participate in the China National Games badminton preliminaries to be held in Zhengzhou from April 17th to May 2nd, the Chinese Badminton Association (CBA) has decided to send 11 players, including Shi Yuqi to participate in the India Open Super 500 event to be held from May 11th to 16th.

In early March, the President of CBA, Zhang Jun had announced that CBA would not send players to India Open, instead, they were planning to take part in three tournaments – Asian Badminton Championships (April 27-May 2), Malaysia Open (May 25-30) and Singapore Open (June 1-6). However, since the Asian Badminton Championships has been postponed, many would expect the Chinese team to play their first tournament at the Malaysia Open. But, it seemed that CBA has changed its plan by sending players to compete at the India Open.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese players have not participated in any international tournaments for more than a year. The tournament they last competed in was the 2020 All England. Since November 15th last year, badminton players from CBA have attended training camp in Lingshui, Hainan. Although some internal competitions were held during the period, there has been no opportunity to play against players from other countries, and world rankings for some of the players have also been affected. Currently, only Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong remained World No. 1 in the mixed doubles category of the BWF Race to Tokyo rankings. Shi Yuqi is now ranked World No. 11 in men’s singles, while He Bingjiao is at World No. 9 in women’s singles.

It’s obvious that CBA would like to improve and solidify its players’ Race to Tokyo rankings by playing at the India Open. For example, if Shi couldn’t move to the top 8 of the Race to Tokyo rankings, he may face seeded players in the early rounds of the Tokyo Olympics.

For men’s doubles, currently, only Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen has qualified for the Olympic Games. That’s also why CBA is sending Han Chengkai/Zhou Haodong (No. 12 in Race to Tokyo Rankings), Liu Cheng/Huang Kaixiang (No. 16 in Race to Tokyo Rankings) to India Open as these two pairs still have a theoretical chance to make the Tokyo Games.

Here is the list of Chinese players set to play at the Indian Open:
Men’s Singles: Shi Yuqi, Lu Guangzu, Li Shifeng
Men’s Doubles: Han Chengkai/Zhou Haodong, Liu Cheng/Huang Kaixiang
Women’s Doubles: Zheng Yu/Li Wenmei, Liu Xuanxuan/Xia Yuting

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