Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal Likely Travel for Malaysia and Singapore via Doha After Travel Ban

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BAI exploring ways to send Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal, and other Indian shuttlers to Malaysia and Singapore Open. (photo: AFP)
BAI exploring ways to send Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal, and other Indian shuttlers to Malaysia and Singapore Open. (photo: AFP)

New Delhi: With the last two tournaments counting for the Tokyo 2020 qualification being the Malaysian Open (May 25 to May 30), and the Singapore Open (June 1 to June 6), the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has been doing everything possible to ensure Indian shuttlers including Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal could travel to Malaysia and Singapore after the two countries have imposed a temporary travel ban on flights from India amid worsening COVID-19 crisis in that country.

“With the current travel restrictions, Indian players will not be able to take direct flights. We have checked for via routes and the alternatives are either from Sri Lanka or from Doha and Indian shuttlers are most likely to travel via Qatar,” BAI said in a statement last Thursday.

“For now there is a 14-day quarantine guideline which means, our players have to reach Malaysia on May 10 to follow the protocols laid out by both the countries. We have also reached out to Malaysian Federation to understand if there are any updated quarantine rules that will be imposed on Indian players,” added BAI.

“We have already submitted the travel documents of our Olympic-bound and Olympic Probable players ( PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Chirag Shetty, Satwik, Saina Nehwal, Srikanth, Ashwini Ponnappa, and Sikki Reddy) and officials for Visa processing. Though there is a ban on the issue of Visa for Indians except for Sports-related travel activities, Visa is available on certain terms and conditions. We are in touch with the Member Associations of Malaysia & Singapore for the necessary documentation,” continued BAI.

With June 15 as the cut-off date for qualifying for Tokyo, the Malaysia and Singapore Opens will be the last chance for Saina Nehwal (ranked No. 22 in the Race to Tokyo rankings) and Kidambi Srikanth (ranked No. 20 in the Race to Tokyo rankings) to secure their qualifications. Both players would need to be ranked in the top 16th in order to secure qualification. Indian players who already qualified for the Olympics are PV Sindhu (women’s singles), B Sai Praneeth (men’s singles), and men’s doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty.

Looking at the latest arrangement from BAI, it meant that the Indians will have to arrive in Malaysia by May 10 to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine before the start of the Malaysia Open.

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