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Badminton World Championships: Indonesia withdraws over Omicron scare

Bengaluru, December 8: Indonesia has decided to pull out from the forthcoming Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships scheduled to be held in Spain amid growing concerns over the rise in cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"The rapid spread of the Omicron prompted us to withdraw from the World Championships," Badminton Indonesia (BI) tweeted from their official handle.

"We don't want to take any risks. The safety and health of athletes are more important. We have discussed with the players and they agreed to pull out," the BI tweet added.

The BWF World Championships is slated to be held in the Spanish city of Huelva from December 12 to 19.I

It may be recalled that earlier Indonesia had also pulled out of the Thomas Cup and Unber Cup finals in Denmark due to COVID-19 concerns.

India's defending champion PV Sindhu has got a first round bye and faces the prospect of coming up against Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Tai Tzu Ying and former world No.1 Carolina Marin in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively in the BWF calendar's showpiece event.

Sindhu gets first round bye in World C'ships, Tai Tzu in line in quartersSindhu gets first round bye in World C'ships, Tai Tzu in line in quarters

Sindhu, who won a bronze in the Tokyo Olympics and a silver at Rio, has been seeded sixth in the marquee event.

The world number seven from Hyderabad has seen a resurgence in form as she had reached semifinals in the last three tournaments and entered the summit clash in one event that she had played.

Tokyo Olympics champion Chen Yu Fei of China is not taking part like many other players from her country.

Injury-plagued Saina Nehwal pulls out of World Championships, expects to resume training mid-DecemberInjury-plagued Saina Nehwal pulls out of World Championships, expects to resume training mid-December

Meanwhile, London 2012 bronze medallist Saina Nehwal has pulled out of the BWF World Championships due to injuries.

This will be the first time Saina will be not participating in the marquee badminton event in 12 editions since making her BWF World Championship debut in 2006.

Srikanth leads Indian charge

In men's singles, Kidambi Srikanth, seeded 12th, will open his campaign against local player Pablo Abian and has the prospect of facing compatriot B Sai Praneeth (seeded 14th) in the quarterfinals, if both are able to reach that stage.

Men's defending champion and top seed Kento Momota of Japan could be the man waiting for the Indians in the semifinals.

Young Lakshya Sen has also been drawn in the same half as his two senior compatriots and faces Max Weisskirchen of Germany in the opening round. He can be up against Momota in the quarterfinals if the Indian reaches there.

In the men's doubles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have been seeded eighth and handed a first round bye. Three other Indian pairs -- Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, and Arun George and Sanyam Shukla are also in the fray.

In women's doubles, the pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy will face the French duo of Delphine Delrue and Lea Palermo in the first round. Two other Indian pairs -- Pooja Dandu and Sanjana Santosh, and Maneesha K and Rutaparna Panda -- are also in the fray.

In mixed doubles, three Indian pairs -- Saurabh Sharma and Anoushka Parikh, MR Arjun and Maneesha K and Utkarsh Arora and Karishma Wadkar -- are in the fray.

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Story first published: Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 14:31 [IST]
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