Kuala Lumpur: Following the postponement of the India Open which was scheduled to be held from May 11 to May 16, the badminton world was dealt a severe blow on Friday especially to shuttlers who were still trying to earn the Olympic qualifying points as Malaysia Open BWF Super 750 event was officially postponed due to a recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia.
The Malaysia Open was one of the last two Olympic qualifying events left before the Olympic Qualifying period for the Race to Tokyo rankings close on 15 June 2021.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) said the rescheduled event would fall outside the qualification window for the Games in statement below:
“Tournament organisers Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and Badminton World Federation have jointly agreed to postpone the CELCOM AXIATA Malaysia Open 2021, scheduled for 25-30 May 2021.
All attempts were made by the organisers and BWF to provide a safe tournament environment for all participants, but the recent surge in cases left no choice but to postpone the tournament.
The CELCOM AXIATA Malaysia Open 2021 is a Super 750 event on the HSBC 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.”
Shuttlers, coaches, and badminton organizations had mixed reactions to the decision of postponing the Malaysia Open.
Viktor Axelsen who was tested COVID-19 positive last week reacted with the message below on Facebook.
“that the situation in Malaysia and rest of the world will be normal again soon. Will be looking forward to come back to Malaysia and compete again. Stay safe ”
While others felt confused in terms of what type of criteria BWF was using in deciding to postpone a tournament.
For example, the 2021 European Championships was held in Kyiv, Ukraine, from April 29 to May 2. During that one week, the highest daily new COVID-19 cases Ukraine had was on April, 29, with a total of 11,750 cases and the lowest was 5,217 cases on May 2.
In Spain, which was one of the worst affected countries in Europe, between April 23 to April 30, it had a daily average of new COVID-19 cases of 9,676. But the 2021 Spain Masters will still go on as planned from May 18 to May 23.
Meanwhile, from April 30 to May 6, Malaysia was experiencing an average of 3,286 new cases per day.
Of course, we shouldn’t underestimate the risk and true impact of COVID-19, but if a tournament could be held in countries with a higher number of daily new COVID-19 cases, but was canceled or postponed in countries with a lower number of daily new COVID-19 cases, that really confusing and mind-boggling for a lot of badminton players as what type of guidelines BWF was following for keeping or canceling tournaments.
There seemed to be a double standard between tournaments in Asia and Europe as they were not treated fairly by BWF. BWF ought to provide an explanation and greater clarity about their policies on this issue.