Kuala Lumpur: With India’s COVID-19 outbreak worsening, Malaysia’s National Security Council (MKN) on Monday had announced a temporary ban on inbound flights from India, and the admission of international students of Indian citizenship and international business visitors.
The policy took effect on Wednesday, to curb a much larger wave of COVID-19 infections which is currently sweeping the whole India.
Meanwhile, starting April 23, Singapore has barred all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have traveled to India within the last 14 days from entering or transiting through Singapore in its effort to curb COVID-19.
These travel bans have put doubts over whether Indian shuttlers can compete at the Malaysia Open that will be held from May 25 to May 30 and the Singapore Open from June 1 to June 6.
Kidambi Srikanth who is currently ranked 20th and Saina Nehwal ranked 22nd in the men’s and women’s Race to Tokyo rankings respectively, were seeing their hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Games fading because Malaysia Open and the Singapore Open were the only two Olympic qualifiers left before the Tokyo Olympics.
According to Badminton World Federation (BWF) regulation, one country can send a maximum of two players in the men’s or women’s singles categories if they are in the top-16 rankings, while a country can send two pairs in men’s doubles or women’s doubles if the pairs are ranked top-eight in the Race to Tokyo rankings.
Not being able to compete at these two last major events in the Olympic qualification calendar, means the end of any chances for Srikanth or Nehwal to make the top 16 in the men’s and women’s Race to Tokyo rankings.
Currently, PV Sindhu (ranked No. 7 in women’s singles), B Sai Praneeth (ranked No. 13 in men’s singles), and Chirag Shetty/Satwiksairaj Rankireddy (ranked No. 8 in men’s doubles) are the only Indian badminton players who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.