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All England Championships: PV Sindhu loses to Nozomi Okuhara in quarter-finals; India's challenge ends

London, March 13: Ace India shuttler and World Champion PV Sindhu was knocked out of the All England Badminton Championships on Friday (March 13) after losing to Japan's Nozomi Okuhara by 21-12, 15-21, 13-21 in the quarter-finals.

The 24-year-old Indian, the sixth seed, won the first game but her fourth-seed Japanese opponent came back strongly to win the remaining two games to progress into the semi-finals. The Hyderabadi shuttler was completely outclassed by Okuhara in the remaining games as she lost by big margins.

In the round of 16, the Rio Olympic silver medallist won in straight-games 21-19, 21-15 against Sung Ji Hyun of Korea to set up clash with Okuhara in season's first tournament.

Earlier in the day, wary of the novel COVID-19 threat, Sindhu on Thursday (March 12) called up Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju from the United Kingdom, seeking his suggestion on whether to continue playing in the All England Championships. Rijiju said on Friday that he told her to carry on and follow the safety guidelines of that country.

The Sports Ministry had on Thursday issued an advisory asking national federations to follow the Health Ministry's guidelines and avoid large gatherings in sports events. Earlier, it had asked all National Sports Federations to exercise caution while sending teams for foreign competitions.

"Sindhu called me and I told her that those who are playing outside in important tournaments like the Olympic qualifications can continue to play but they should follow guidelines of those respective countries. They should also take certain safety measures," Rijiju told the media after the General Body Meeting of the Sports Authority of India here.

Asked about shuttler P Kashyap expressing confusion regarding the advisory of the Health Ministry through his tweets, Rijiju said, "I have made the clarification that those who are competing abroad should continue."

"The PM is personally monitoring the situation. We are very serious. Public health is a concern and the government at the highest level has taken a decision to ensure that there are no events happening with a large number of people gathering."

Rijiju said that Indian players who had taken part in competitions held at the seven notified countries, as well as athletes from those nations coming for events here, will have to be compulsorily quarantined.

"Whether they are Indian players or foreign athletes, they have to be quarantined," he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Story first published: Friday, March 13, 2020, 21:42 [IST]
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