New Delhi, March 25: The Badminton Association of India (BAI) on Wednesday postponed the 84th Senior Badminton National Championships scheduled to be held in Lucknow from April 27 to May 3 after the government put the country under lockdown till April 14 to combat the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus outbreak has claimed 10 lives and infected nearly 600 people in the country, prompting the government to put the whole country under lockdown till April 14 to fight the spread of the deadly disease.
"Now that the government has extended the lockdown, we have decided to postpone the 84th Senior nationals badminton Championships and 75th Inter State - Inter Zonal. It is unfortunate that the tournament couldn't be held as planned but it is a grave situation and fighting this disease is the priority," BAI General secretary Ajay Singhania told PTI.
"Once the situation comes under control, we will meet and then decide if it is feasible to conduct the tournament at a later date." In India, 32 states and union territories have been put in lockdown. Two states - Punjab and Maharashtra - and a UT - Puducherry - have declared curfews. With the coronavirus wrecking havoc, BAI had earlier put the event on hold and asked all state secretaries not to book their tickets for Lucknow.
"We have advised the state secretaries not to book any ticket for the Lucknow event," Singhania had said on Tuesday.
"We can't put our players or officials at risk."
Saina Nehwal and Sourabh Verma are the defending champions, having won the women's and men's singles titles respectively at Guwahati last year.
The affliction also forced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the Tokyo Games to next year and BAI welcomed the decision.
"While our shuttlers have been training for years while gearing for the Olympic Games, we need to understand the trying times that we are in due to the COVID19 outbreak. As much as we want the show to go on, we at Badminton Association of India (BAI) believe at this point of time the physical well being of our players and support staff is of prime importance as much as the safety of the fans," Singhania said.
"We welcome the decision on behalf of the entire badminton authority and, hope and pray that we can tide the situation soon and our athletes can resume training."
BAI had earlier shut down its office from March 23 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and with the extension of the lockdown, the governing body has instructed its employees to work from home till April 14.